Today marks the end of my eleventh year teaching. If you had told me during my first year that I would still be teaching after eleven years, I don’t know that I would have believed you.
At the start of the year, I came across an article that compared good teachers to marigolds in that they build those around them much like marigolds do in a garden. I’ve always been one who likes to build people up because I know what people like that have done for me. So my motto for the year quickly became: Be a marigold to everyone.
This year allowed for this which made it such an important year in my craft.
First, we had a significant turnover. Many of the teachers that were hired were new or new to our grade level. In my team of five, three were new. And, I had a mentee who was assigned to either grade English and Reading. Also, at the start of the second semester, I gained a student teacher.
I also felt like I had gained some traction when it came to planning as a team. I felt like I needed to keep that momentum going. We had done some good things the previous year, and I wanted to enhance them.
I was also the reigning Teacher of the Year the previous year, so I felt like I had to continue to earn that title.
Then, there was the possibility of the peer facilitator position that I had my eye on—which I didn’t end up getting.
But this year was important because it’s the year I started to actually see my value as a teacher. Prior to this year, I didn’t believe I was a good teacher. But this year, through mentoring, I was able to see what my work was doing for my kids. Seeing and hearing my kids answer questions, create, and write using knowledge that I had taught them was eye-opening.
One day, I had to run out to make a few extra copies. When I walked back into my room, not only had they not even noticed I was gone because they’d been so into their work, but they were saying things I always say to them. It made me smile.
Also, this year, for some reason, I really connected with the boys. There were a few that told me some deep, vulnerable things. I would listen without judgement and give advice when they seemed like they wanted it. There was Andrew who came by at least three times a day to tell me I was in “deep trouble” or that I was “a trap.” Then there was Jesse who’d come by to “just say hi to my favorite teacher.” And there was Anthony who had made a 180 in regard to behavior at the start of the year. But when his mom walked out on them, I was the first to get cursed out. Later, he cried and apologized profusely. I forgave him, of course, because I, too, know that when things go south, it’s easiest to hurt the people you feel comfortable with.
Our Name that Book team came in first place for the third year in a row.
In November, we did a modified version of NaNoWriMo. Although I had a small group participate, they were consistent.
I was able to get everyone on my team to participate in a Poetry Slam. And although there were many hiccups, we did it. I learned and made lots of notes for next year. But my kids did me proud. I only had one student out of 27 back out. And even though they were nervous, they still went up there and read their work with pride. My students in the audience hardly needed a reminder of behavior expectations.
I finally feel like a veteran teacher even though eleven years isn’t really that long. But I finally feel like I know what I’m doing. I’m looking forward to year twelve and all it promises.