The end of the semester fast approaches, two weeks until it's over. I do not hesitate to express joy at this group of students moving on, nor do I keep my sadness in check either. Love/hate, eh? I really enjoy my 153 students this semester. Some drive me insane, others let me (really, themselves) down more often than I'd like, and still others make me want to quit. Yet, each of them enrich my life daily. Laughter, tears, real conversation, and genuine trust and caring have occurred in this room this semester. I am thinking of these things now because I just sent to copy my course evaluation. This is not required, as it is in college courses, but I have students evaluate both me and the class for my own good humor and learning and improvement. Most realistically, I want honest answers, but I don't hide the fact that I hope my evaluations are on the "good" side. I feel like a better teacher this year. I am finding my place. I embrace the reputation as a "meanie" as well as that of "awesome" (both of which I've heard recently). I like to think I can be both. Some students will always hate my strong expectations; others will always find a way to connect with me (our shared love of broadway, choral experience, the same role in the school play, Sunday's football game [or Monday's...ouch, OSU], gossip, tv shows, movies, books, politics, etc...all enjoyed conversations). I think my students know the "real me". And just as plenty of people in the "real world" don't like me, so too will many of my students. And I'm pretty sure I'm okay with that, so long as they're still learning and respecting me. Some things I've learned this year:
*Laughing at your own mistakes is always worth the slight humiliation.
*Students have strong opinions and should never be silenced (I am very much looking forward to next week's persuasive speeches that offer up topics of all social significance from the war to school rules to the environment to education and media and space exploration [I could go on and on, as I told them no two students could speak the same argument; 153 students=153 different viewpoints]).
*Their feelings should never be taken for granted either. The sadness I see in their eyes, especially those who have talked with me about their issues, makes me proud they continue each day.
*School lunch really isn't that bad.
*Sharing moments of laziness or unpreparedness or apathy with the students brings me to their level. I am human; they need to remember this. I need to remember this sometimes, too.
*This year, I've used the phrase "When I was in high school..." more than ever before. Perhaps it's because I am getting older, and HS does seem ages away. But it's sharing the experiences that make a difference (yesterday: overheard "I don't want to take Earth Science, because I hate the teacher." I begin to intrude, "You shouldn't limit..." meaning to say, "...your classes just because of who's teaching it." But instead I stopped and said, "You shouldn't limit...wait, nevermind. I did the same thing in HS, why should you be any different?" which gleaned a giggle and a conversation about why the teacher can make such a strong difference to the class.)
*Going out of my way for a student feels great; having that student take advantage of it is a knife in the heart; and seeing them succeed because of my help is indescribable.
Okay, I guess I like my job. Here's to second semester. Cheers.