Many of my colleagues throughout the country have already done their end of the year posts, but because NYC is special, we end our school year on June 27th. Yet, academically, the school year is done for all intents and purposes, especially mine who are preparing for their 8th grade graduation tomorrow. This year has been so hectic, yet so rewarding in the best ways. Last year, I dedicated myself to improving my craft wholesale during the summer, and, understanding that at some point I had to leave for paternity leave, I had to get more targeted about my instruction. Moreover, I had to get back to what got me here: the passion for teaching.
With that in mind, here are the five reasons (in no particular order) that made the year awesome:
1. I planned lessons daily like my first year.
At some point, I admittedly lost my way when it came to lesson planning. This year, I took my time, crafting every lesson plan as carefully as possible. I also had another teacher with me, which made me kick up the ante a little more, too.
2. My kids had character.
They honestly made it easy to teach them. OK, that’s not true, but they did make most of it fun along the way. They had a certain character that was more idiot savant than malicious malcontent, and that always makes for a great year.
3. Our curriculum maps actually gave us time.
Going on paternity leave is never easy, but particularly in the middle part of the year when you think you finally got a rhythm going. What helped me jump back into the swing of things was knowing that our team built in time to make adjustments. By the time the “big test” came, I felt most of my students had the preparation necessary to overcome most obstacles.
4. Coming in early means coming in on time.
I learned (or re-learned) that coming in 30-45 minutes early really settles me down before I go into the classroom. I’ve been early to school every day since last school year; the clarity pays off dividends when I started teaching first period.
5. Kids actually felt like they learned math.
Having a positive attitude about the subject you’re teaching students really helps, especially when it gets tough. I projected the enthusiasm as often as possible. Conversely, I tried to dissuade my students from discouraging themselves in their math. Thus, the one comment everyone made this year in my class is that I didn’t give up on them. That means a lot more to me than anything.
In the last one, I would hope that every year, this is true. This year, however, the students actually expressed that sentiment. I don’t have a homeroom (see my new excerpt about homerooms here), but I connected with this class so much. Here’s to a graduation, not just for them, but for me, too.