Friday, June 17, 2011

My Final Post

The year ended rather unceremoniously.  It reminded me of the last days of college, when you rush around getting your work done, packing up your room and saying good bye to your friends who you know you will see again in a few months when you come back. 

Saying good bye to my seniors and to my coworkers who are moving on was difficult.  However, I leave with great confidence that I accomplished a lot this year and next year will be much better. 

My husband's father, who died many years ago, was a much-beloved teacher.  Apparently at his funeral, the church was packed with former students who told my husband what a great man his father was, and how much he had impacted their lives.  Several weeks ago, I asked my husband what advice he thought his dad would give me if he was around.  He paused for just a moment and said, "Love your kids." 

I do--every single one of them, including the one that tried to punch me in the face, the twins that drove me nuts, and the girl who chewed me out in front of her mother and an administrator.  I didn't always like them or their behavior, but I loved them enough to demand their best and nothing less.  If they have learned nothing else this year and remember me with disdain, at least I never compromised in my goal of teaching them how to be responsible, thoughtful, respectful, productive Citizens of the World. I am ready to do it all again next year, with a new group of kids who no doubt will test my patience, make me laugh, cry, and scream.

Until then, I am going to relax, read (and I am going to read trash!), go to the pool, enjoy my family who has been so patient with me this year, and most important, come up with a name for a new blog, now that I am no longer a first year teacher!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I am just a few days away from the end of the year.  Classes are winding down and due to passing SOLs, all but five of my students are exempt from exams.  I am trying to keep my eye on the prize, but I am completely burned out and have little patience for the challenges I am facing the last few days, which include:

1.  My students are DONE in their minds.  It is  nearly impossible to get them to focus and do their work.  They don't come to class, they sleep, they play, they give me a hard time. The only exception is the ones who have just now realized they are failing and are bugging me for extra credit and make up work. 
2.  I am having to make "the call" which goes something like this "Hello, is this the parent of Carl Smith?  I am calling to let you know that your child is in danger of failing English."  This is always followed by "WHAT?!  Why wasn't I notified????" with the not so subtle implication that this is somehow my fault.  Here's the deal:  grades are on line for parents and students to view any time.  I do it for my own children, why don't you?  Two, your kid is not just now magically failing.  With 3 grading periods behind us, your kid failed at least two of them if they are failing now.  Why is this such a shock to you?  Three, I did call you.  I have it documented.
3.  Administrators seem to be done with school as well, with little being done in the way of discipline.  I think their thought is "There are only 2 weeks left, why bother with referrals?"

I have just two full periods left with each class.  Many moments I wonder if I will be able to do this for two more years (which is when I will be eligible for transfer), but I try to remind myself that next year will be easier because:

1.  I can get around the building!  I know where the copier, the bathrooms, the administrators' offices, and the computer labs are.
2.  I know the staff.  I know who I can trust and who I can't (I'm talking about you, busy-body social studies lady and soul crushing administrator!).  I'm not a new face and am not going to be labeled as "first year teacher" anymore!
3.  I know the kids.  This means I am better prepared to teach them and manage them.  It doesn't mean I am perfect at it, by any means.  It just means I have a leg up on them!
4.  I've got my lesson plans ready to go!  I am sure I will modify next year, but I know what works best and how best to teach it.  Example:  Raisin in the Sun, yes.  Ben Franklin, no.  Start writing practice way earlier in the year.  SSR (student selected reading) is a joke, so no more book reports.
5.  I'm only teaching one subject next year, which means only one SOL and one class to plan for.
6.  Hopefully I will have my own room, instead of traveling from classroom to classroom on a cart. The room can be set up the way I want it to be and everything will be at my fingertips. 
7.  I now have some credibility from the students who were successful in my class. 
8.  My mentor is going to be department head next year, so I will have another great advocate for the department in my corner.
9.  I am already a member of the National Education Association (NEA) and I know what a great support it provides its teachers.
10.  I have confidence!  I made it through one year with none of the previous 9 things going for me--this next year has got to be easier....right?  RIGHT??