With only EOGs and a few more weeks of school standing between us (my students and I) and the end of the year, I thought I would take a minute to review everything that I have learned and experienced. Now don’t let this post fool you though. You see I teach at a year-around school so we don’t end until June 30th and we start a new school year July 9th. That’s why I am writing this post now because there will be no time during that week to be posting to my blog.
Let me start out by saying that overall this year was spectacular. I know some other first year teachers who have had traumatic years. In fact, I know 2 first year teachers who switched schools half way through the year. So I consider myself lucky and blessed to have been surrounded by a great team, a supportive staff, and eager students. Oh and by the way…the picture you see hear is from a Saturday morning cartoon called Recess…great cartoon!
So let’s recap my year and all of the things I have learned…
1. I started the year late. When I graduated last May (2009), my district was in a hiring freeze (as they are this year it was just lifted…YAY! Now I will officially be teaching again next year). By the time I started teaching, my students had already been in school for about 6 weeks. This was a very difficult transition for me and the students. They had already established a routine and had become accustomed to their teachers and then I show up. I think everyone was a little nervous. I was nervous because it was my first year of teaching, and they were a little nervous because I was just some new guy who could disrupt their entire universe. But it didn’t take too long for them to warm up to me and vice versa. I quickly learned children like routine (some of them need routine) and if you disrupt their routine, it had better be in favor of them.
2. Within a few weeks of my first year, I received a lot of slack about my use of technology in the classroom. The nay-sayers threw CIPA at me. The nay-sayers told me I was causing a distraction. The nay-sayers told me I was using my students for my own personal social media endeavors (that one really shocked me). That entire experience taught me a lot but most importantly, it taught me patience. Those people showed me how important it is to be able to justify why I teach the way I do (using technology, preparing 21st century leaners) and why I teach what I teach (social studies in context of the community). If I cannot justify the advantages and benefits of my teaching to myself, how can I then turn and expect parents and administrators to see the value in my classroom.
3. Oh yeah…I got a concussion. Great story…perhaps another blog post at some point. Let’s just say it involved a student faculty basketball game, a really big 7th grader, a really hard gym floor, and a hospital cat scan. Oh yeah, I thought a school bus was Bojangles. The color threw me off or it could have been the knot on my head.
4. During my first year, I was graciously awarded “First Year Teacher of the Year” for my school. It was a very flattering honor because there are quite a few really dynamic and great first year teachers at my school. Honestly, it could have been any one of us. I made it all the way to final 2 for the district. In fact a good friend of mine, who I graduated with, was just chosen as the district award winner a few weeks ago. The entire process was very enlightening. I had many people in my classroom observing, reading my blog, reading my essays, asking my colleagues questions, interviewing me, etc. After it was all said and done, I realized that for the entire 12 week interview and observation process, I was very driven and focus to bring my A game…if you will. I did not want to lose any opportunity to interact with my students, teach them something new, or learn something from them. I want to feel that drive all the time. I don’t know why I wasn’t driven like that at the beginning of the year…maybe nerves. And now to be honest…I am tiring out. Honestly, I’m exhausted. I am trying to maintain that pace of innovation, but I am losing steam and so are my students. Next year, I know to pace myself so that I can keep that motivation, drive, and educational vision alive the entire year.
So there is a year in review, but don’t think I won’t be writing more soon. We start school again on July 9th (quick turnaround…I know) with new students who I am looking forward to getting to know. But I’ll leave you what I learned from my students this year:
-how to spin a silly band on your finger
-how to do the dance move “the jerk”
-I wear too many polos for a grown man
-my beard makes me look old
-how to trust
-the value in just saying “Hello”
-I drink a lot of water
-I write like a girl