For the Love of Teaching

The First Semester of the school year has finished.  It was a good one. I really enjoy my students, and I already feel a difference in the school climate with the new administration. I feel more supported and not as stressed.  I noticed a creativity in my students that has been missing.  The chemistry of the students in the classes are playing a large part. Competitiveness that existed last year doesn’t seem to be there.

I saw writing improve, pleasure in discussion, growth in reliability, and growth in creativity.  I’ve been touched by the kindness students have shown to each other.  I’ve laughed (sometimes to myself) on the repeated acts that students thought were only their excuses or actions.

On the other side, I noticed I have to be very specific about my definition of cheating for my students. I have been more careful to also give more options to avoid the problem. The collaborative style of pedagogy being used in classes may be a reason.  Maybe kids don’t know the difference.  I discourage kids sharing information about tests in their general conversation in class, so my message has been clear.  I don’t collect answers to guided questions.  I use them to stimulate discussion.

I only felt frustrated once when a fire drill, schedule changes for testing, and conferences were all in the same week. It seemed many times this semester there was less time for teaching. But we somehow made it through to finish required curriculum without to much groaning from my students.

I did notice more 504s for really curious reasons. I heard discussions of IEPs that seemed to be growing in number.  I wondered about parents taking kids out of our school to enroll them in ECOT.  Since the organization has been in court and claims it will close down in January 2018 if the state makes it pay what the state is owed, I wondered how out of touch parents could be for the sake of their student.  I  noticed teachers exhausted, but still make time to have special study sessions and to try to make learning interesting and fun.

I noticed the students stressing more math and science grades in their concerns.  Language Arts, reading, and writing less so.  (Full disclosure, I am a Language Arts teacher.) They would make up tests in the previously mentioned subjects and put off ELA. Or feel it was okay to not hand in projects and essays because something else was due in other subjects. I did notice in some cases there was still time for sporting events.

I was amused at the crazy begging for extra credit in the last week when they realized they had put off doing their ELA assignments for other subjects or did assignments haphazardly. Or after all the grades were in, if they could make something up. Or if his or her final grade is not an A, could the teacher see clear to round the points up…even when the grade was points away.

Have kids changed in my 30 years of teaching? Well, that would take a whole other posting.