Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others." ~ Author Unknown

As some of you know, I am a teacher. Tomorrow marks my quasi-final day of teaching. Afterall, next week is really just Memorial Day, yearbook day, enter my grades and clean up the classroom week (aka recycle the equivalent of giant redwood tree's worth of paper in the form of graded, commented upon, yet un-claimed papers and assignments). In other words, tomorrow, I still gotta teach. Oh, let's be honest, I'm going to sit through another 40 awkward-in-only-the-way-a-14-year-old-can-be-awkward presentations on modern and contemporary poets. That, and read Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Suess to my students.

So, I'm done. I am done with my first year. And suddenly, I'm starting to reflect on my first official full-length school year as a high school teacher. And here are a few of my thoughts and observations.

1. Like many professions, nobody has a clear view of just how challenging something is until they do it, day in and day out. Teaching is tough, demanding, exhausting, and at times rewarding work. I had no idea just how tough this job is until I started doing it.

2. I don't care who they are, teenagers are, by far, some of the smartest people I know that are also capable of making some of the stupidest decisions I have ever heard of.

3. Thank goodness there is life after 14.

4. You can live on 4 hours of sleep night after night. You may not look very healthy, but it is possible.

5. Sometimes laughter is the best classroom (and self-sanity) management!

6. There is a place known as "the zone." In "the zone," one can grade during marathon sessions, design entire curriculum plans, and think about the needs of 180 people simultaneously, with complete unawareness of the existence of time, hunger, or the outside world.

7. In December and January, leave work early every now and again. Just to know the sun really does exist.

8. I have a bladder of steel.

9. I need to just face it: my feet are going to hurt terribly between now and retirement.

10. Every teacher needs a friend who knows how to listen and cares about you and what you do. (Thanks Alice...I wouldn't have made it this year without you).

11. "Smart Ones" by Weight Watchers (specifically the Ravioli Florentine and Roasted Potato, Broccoli, & Cheddar) made certain I wasn't malnourished. And, might I mention, if you plan it right they can fit nicely into what equates to be a 25-minute lunch/bathroom break/quick department meeting and/or several episodes of the "If I get an A on this test would that help me pass with a C?" Q & A session.

12. The same kid who told you "This is boring, can we just have a free day?" yesterday is now telling you "I love this class!" today. What can I say? Teenagers are fickle!

13. Due to the fact that most schools' heating/air conditioning systems are operated by monkeys: layering works best.

14. No matter how much they complain, no matter how rarely they ARE doing something worthwhile and the truth is, you will probably never hear the stories of the positive impacts you made.

It has been a wonderful and terrible year. I think I'll stick with it.


Alice said...

Love the list! I have to say while I am not a teacher I must know too much of your ups and downs this year because you hit it right on the nose! :) Yay! Your summer is finally here.

Blackeyedsue said...

I admire you so much for being a teacher. I have so little patience and would drop-kick someone. I don't think that would go over too well with the school board.

I look up to you for your choosen profession. GO TEACHERS!!!

Acredito said...

Your list is my list! :-)
And I've been a secondary level teacher for 16 years now...
Hope you'll still think like that when you're my age! :-)