Today was the end of school honors assembly and its got me waxing nostalgic.
I've been teaching now eight years. It is the longest I've ever worked in one place. My youngest boys were in first and third grades when I started at Independent. They will both be in high school this upcoming school year. The kids I will teach next year were just starting Kindergarten when I started at the school.
I've said this before, teaching has been challenging and exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. My goal as a teacher is simple and can be summed up by a statement by George Bernard Shaw:
“I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead - ahead of myself as well as you.”
My hope for my children and for my students is that they will go farther than me. I want to inspire them to move beyond themselves and me as well. I am exactly where I am supposed to be...where is that spot for them, I ask and poke and prod. I am so proud of the three graduating classes I've been lucky enough to challenge, goad, heckle and encourage. One of my favorite moments is when a student comes back to say hi. I love hearing how they are doing and what they're learning and the trouble they are getting themselves into and out of. It is a blessing to watch 13 year olds become young women and men. I'm honored to be a part of it.
One tangible reminder is the swag you get from kids. In our school, there is a monetary gift, which is lovely. Thank you! However, at Christmas and end of school there is a sea of gifts and cards from students as well. I look forward to them more than I should let on. I genuinely thank them and then find a quiet place to read them with no one around. I don't want anyone to see me cry-I always do. They are heartfelt and remind you that you did something important. In the hurry of a school year, that can get lost. The thank you cards and then graduation announcements four years later push through the daily grind of educating the teeming masses. I am not a collector, but I keep all of those. I keep them close by. On a rough day during the school year, I have been known to ask myself, "What the hell am I doing in this classroom?" I'll pull them out and reread them. The cards are like a tether that keeps me from going over the edge.
Another blessing are the tokens of their gratitude. Mugs and books and chocolates and pencils and binder clips (my charges know I have an affection for office supplies). My room is littered with items which remind me that I'm a lucky guy. This year, a former student brought me a set of presidential Pez dispensers. This was in the middle of the year and they said that they saw them and thought of me. Again, I thanked them and we laughed about them and when they left, yup ... I needed a minute to get the lump out of my throat.
The picture above is a small stash of plunders of war.
This summer, this blog is the place I ponder what it is to be a teacher and how I can do it better. As always, its designed to get the thoughts out of my head and if they are instructive or challenging or infuriating ... cool beans on all accounts. I appreciate your taking the time to read them, comment on them and share the in the interawebby thing you're using.
Today, however, I just wanted to say I love my job and wish the TIS Class of 2017 the very best!
I love ya'll. I'm a growly bear and push you because I love ya. It's how I show my affection!