Well if you were anywhere around Facebook last week you saw that it was Teacher Appreciation Week. There were so many posts about influential teachers from elementary school to high school. For a job that has such “little” rewards there really are incredible perks. First of all summer. Do I have to say anything else? Summer’s are awesome. Teachers love them more than students I assure you. Really all holidays are perks. Whenever kids are out, you are out. But with the holidays and all the days off there are big time downfalls. Any teacher will tell you that being at school is way easier than being out of school for a sick day or a personal day. It is so hard to describe on a piece of paper given to a sub (that might not be read at all) all the tiny intricacies of my daily routine as a teacher. There is a certain way I set up my classroom, distribute papers, talk to a certain student in a certain way, look out for cheating, and so many other small, minute things that I could fill a book of instructions for just one day.
But probably the best part of teaching is the interaction between teacher and student. When the bell rings, I close my door and the students that are there are my responsibility. Everything I say can be used for good or evil. It is a tough place to be for anyone. There are two things that I have to show as a teacher. Number one is the fact that I know my content. Over the past seven years, I have taught lots of math and I have to know the math frontwards and backwards. One thing that kids can do is make you honest. They can sniff out when you don’t know what you are talking about. It’s scary how good they are at it. They are not afraid to kick you when you are down. So if you can hold your own with them, you probably can with anyone. The second thing that I have to show as a teacher is leadership. I not only have to show students that I am prepared for class and ready for them, but I also have to show students how to act like a compassionate and hard working part of the community. This is the toughest job, because hey guess what teachers are human. We make mistakes and we don’t have it all together. But as a servant of the people, we have to be ready to eat a big piece of humble pie when we are wrong. I have had a few of those parent conferences, where I was in the wrong and was blasted for it. But I have also had meetings where I was completely destroyed by a parent because their child was not passing my class with an A.
I am so appreciative about my time as a teacher. I learned so much about myself. I learned how to explain the different between an asymptote and a hole in the graph. I learned how to control a room of hormone filled kids and actually have them walk in and know what is expected of them. I learned how to teach the foundations of math so that not every formula just appeared on the page, but that the formula had a story and background to its appearance. I learned how not to judge a book by its cover. I learned how to identify when someone really needs to use the bathroom and when they just want to leave the room. I learned how to be a spy and find out who is cheating and who is actually improving their test grades. I learned how to grade papers at lightning speed. I learned how to apologize. I learned how to fail gracefully. Most of all I learned how very little I know.
I am so thankful that I was a teacher. I have a few extremely proud moments as a teacher. There are of course the moments when students “get it” and start to understand the math that I am trying to convey to them. There are the moments when a student who has been trying all year to make a good grade on a test and they finally do it. Academic moments are great because those are the moments that you remember why you teach the subject that you teach. The other moments are what make teaching truly fantastic. When I see a student catch a touchdown pass. When I see a student sing an incredible solo. When I see a student apologize when they are knowingly in the wrong. When I see a student genuinely care about another person. Those are the moments where being a teacher truly outshines the bad.
As I say goodbye to teaching for at least a year, I have to say goodbye to all the good and bad. I can’t help but think that being a teacher for 7 years prepared me for what is to come. Working with adults can’t be nearly as difficult as working with students could it? Well to say goodbye to my seniors this year, I decided to write them something to put into words how I felt about leaving school. It was a story about them. About going through a public school education, but with a Disney spin. You see every Friday we would have This Week in Disney History and I would tell a story or tale about Disney for the enjoyment of starting the weekend. It had nothing to do with math and it was not very long, but time after time, students would say that they loved this part of the week. Who wouldn’t right? Ok so next will be the story that I wrote the 2015 seniors. See if you can find all 26 Disney songs hidden in the story.
Once upon a time,
There lived a group of kids that were born in the late 90s. They were a bright group of dreamers who longed to live in the great circle of life. But in order to go the distance they needed some teaching to help them achieve their dreams. They learned many things through elementary school. They learned how to paint with all the colors of the wind and that when you wish upon a star your dreams come true. Everything was hakuna matata (it means no worries).
But then life hit. Junior high was tough. Classes were harder, teachers gave more work, and people were meaner. It was almost like life was saying, “I’ll make a man out of you!” That’s when the group of kids decided to dig a little deeper and get to high school where they could feel free.
Then high school became a reality. They entered into a place called Clinton High School or CHS: The Home of the Arrows. The group was afraid at first, but it always seemed like new adventures were just around the river bend. CHS invited the group to be our guest and try out all that we have to offer. They accepted the challenge and joined clubs, band, choir, show choir, athletics, academic teams, and the like. It was indeed a whole new world in high school. The group was constantly buried under the sea of schoolwork: projects, essays, tests, exams, etc. They started to wonder if they would ever see daylight again. High school is truly like visiting a beauty and the beast. Some days are so good that you feel like everyone is seeing I 2 I. Other days the struggle is so real that it physically hurts. But then at the end of their junior year someone shouted, “I see the light at the end of the tunnel!” It was time to be a senior.
August 2014 came around and the group entered CHS for their very last first day of school. They began looking at different college pamphlets and taking college tours. They kept saying I want to be part of your world. But graduation would have to come first. It was time for the group of 2015 to truly arise and seize the day. By December the group was already making pals for what they would do in summer, because they knew that their time was almost there. May finally came and all the years of wondering when will my life begin have led to today.
After today there will be a huge separation between the two worlds of high school and life outside. Your life will be so incredibly different and yet so much the same. There will still be assignments, homework, friends, bullies, dances, pep rallies, and teachers. But there will also be jobs, taxes, spouses, rent, loans, and aches and pains. Take each day as a new adventure. Don’t live in the past. Take high school and let it go. Keep moving forward. Do good. Be good. Journey Strong and Finish Empty.
And always remember that you’ve got a friend in me. Also take a look around you. We’re all in this together and we go on as one.
I share this to show my appreciation for the best part of being a teacher: the students. Without them I would not have had a job for the past seven years. Even though I am moving on to something completely different, I will carry with me the lessons learned from inside my closed classroom door. Tomorrow I will leave my room for the last time and journey into a crazy new world. Kind of like my students that will be graduating tomorrow night. I sure will miss being the teacher. I just hope that somewhere in those seven years, I made an impact for the better in at least one of their lives. I want to close with the last words spoken by the greatest TV teacher of all time Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World, “I love you all, class dismissed.”