It is the first official full week of my summer vacation, and it has taken me this long to wrap my head around the fact that I’m not a first year teacher anymore. Everyone kept saying that this would be the hardest year of my life, and while my job was difficult and stressful and took up a lot of my time, this was actually one of the most fun and most fulfilling years I’ve ever had.
I think, as opposed to calling it the hardest, I would call it one of the most eye-opening years. I’ve learned and grown a ridiculous amount, as a teacher and as an adult, this year. I thought that today, as I try to wrap my head about this past year and all the knowledge and wisdom I’ve taken in, I would attempt to recount some of the nuggets of goodness I have acquired this year. Here goes:
– Kids lose EVERYTHING. Staple things to their faces…or just teach them to be organized before doing anything else.
– There will always be one more thing to do. At some point, you just have to accept that, stop working, and go buy shoes.
– Coffee cures all, most importantly, mid-afternoon caffeine-withdrawal headaches that come on from not drinking coffee in the morning. On a related note: don’t get too addicted to coffee.
– Kids get annoyed when you take six weeks to grade an essay that took them three weeks to write.
– Kids will call you out when you misspeak, misspell, or misquote ANYTHING. They will take great pleasure in it.
– Students are oddly interested in their teachers’ lives. Tell them a little something about yourself to get them interested in anything else you are talking about.
– Staying up late to get work done helps no one. You cannot face a classroom full of children on less than 6 hours of sleep without exploding.
– If kids don’t know WHY they have to learn something, they won’t WANT to learn it. Explain why you are making them take three pages of notes or write that fourth response to literature essay if you want them to care enough to actually complete it.
– Make time for students before and after school, even if you have 9,000 other things to do. If they are asking you for extra help, they deserve your time and undivided attention.
– Don’t take things personally. Take obnoxious teenage comments as constructive criticism. Fix the problem. If kids complain that they’re bored, be more interesting. If kids complain that they have too much to do, teach them to manage their time.
– Kids care. Even when they act like they don’t, they really really REALLY do.
– The kids you think aren’t listening sometimes are. They kids you think are angels sometimes aren’t.
– In the end, you’ll be surprised by who claims you were their favorite teacher. You’ll claim you don’t care if kids like you, as long as they learn, but its still ridiculously nice to get the “Thanks and I’ll miss you!” hug on the last day of school.
I probably have more, but I’m tearing up. I’ll leave you with my favorite student letter to me on the last day of school, not because she said nice things (She did), but because of how observant she was and how well she seemed to know me. It completely caught me by surprise. I always forgot that these kids had to stare at me for two hours a day, five days a week, for nine months. They noticed EVERYTHING I did.
“I think it was really funny how you would sing or hum when you were trying to get the class to calm down or when you used to “hmph” really quietly. lol You are a great teacher Amanda, and I love you for that.”