After 8 months of teaching, wait….of trying to teach; backing off lessons that are too complex for the student, breaking it down, step by step, behavior chaos, students who boycott my class because I’m too hard on them, and the general feeling of being an adolescent baby-sitter, instead of teaching; something “clicked.”
It is almost as if you could hear it, as well as feel it. Paradigm shift within the mind of the student. Click.
As if transported to an alternate universe, they settle down, come into class expecting a lesson, working and focusing on the objective, and openly discussing the novels or reading with enthusiasm.
I’m thinking that it took this long for the “trust” factor to enter in. I’m not out to hurt them, not out to punish or ridicule. I’m like Julia Roberts standing on a porch, pleading my cause: “I’m just a teacher, standing in front of my class, asking you to engage in learning with me.” (smile).
It is May 3rd. I have exactly 20 class sessions left to deliver. The other day, my principal said, “If you want to take it easy, it’s fine with me, I know you have had a hard year. ” I said, “What? Are you crazy? This is the final push toward the finish line! I can see the end, as a runner, this is my greatest effort in a race.” And I will. Every day has a definite lesson that I am eager to share. My middle school group has really caught on and has become the shining stars of learning. They read passionately, write with clarity, and focus on their work, and it such a joy to teach them.
Update on my “tough” class, I made the decision earlier to make it all about relationship with them. You know the adage, “students won’t care what you know until they know you care…” (unknown), it’s proven true here. I remember in years past, in September, when encountering a particularly TOUGH kid in class: the one who shouted out, shoved around, threw stuff at me and others (that kid), one way that I would calm myself down and not react to their reality, was to say in my head as they were causing disruption, “THIS will be my favorite student at the end of the year.” Somehow, it always worked out that way, much to my dismay, I ended up loving them more than the run of the mill (if there is such a thing) student. I have that kid in mind right now. Tough, unreachable, sarcastic, big and scary, this one has suddenly begun to work hard, give me wonderful thoughts on paper, with perfect printing, and apologize when he disrupts class.
Am I in a dream? If so, please don’t wake me!
So I finish the year here, with a peaceful feeling with my classes, knowing I have done all I could do, used every bit of my creative and academic abilities. I have given it all I had, and it is good.