Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers
Day 4: What do you love the most about teaching?
Well this one is easy, the kids! This has always been my answer to this question, but this year it rings more true than ever.
I started this blog the summer before I started at the school I'm presently in. I had taught for the previous six years in middle school, two years in 7th grade and then four years in 8th grade. When I taught 8th grade graduation was always bittersweet. Sure the kids drive me nuts at times but it always made me sad to see them go. Being in 8th grade, they were going off to high school and it meant not seeing most of them again.
So in moving to high school and teaching underclassmen I was excited to not have this happen. And then my first year here I got the most awesome group of sophomores. And it was great because they weren't going anywhere! (do you see where this is going yet?).
So for all three years that I've been at my school I've gotten back this same group of kids each year. And I teach small classes, so it's been a small class of around 10 kids. This year they weren't required to take math but I asked to teach an elective math course and most of my group of kids signed up to take it. We joked through the year that I was the Mr. Feeny of their group. Towards the end of the year they'd ask if I was sure that I wasn't coming to college with them. I taught them in class but also for the past three years some of them also spent lunch in my room, we started a bunch of school spirit stuff the school never had, we did community service (voluntarily just because they wanted to), many of them joined the club I run, they stayed after school to do work with me, they came to hang out in the morning, they had designated cubbies in my room that they used instead of lockers, helped me out countless times, and the list goes on and on. They've stayed in touch via e-mail each summer with anything exciting that happened. When they had issues with other teachers they came to me and I stood up for them. When they were upset or frustrated or just in a bad mood they came to me. When they were really excited about something they came to me. Whenever I needed help or came up with some crazy new idea these were the kids that were with me. And when I got the most frustrated, it was also probably because of them.
Pretty much every teacher and counselor that has had this group talks about how they're just the best kids ever. They've been a teacher's dream and I'm so grateful to have been able to be their teacher for so long. Graduation this year was very tough. If I thought that seeing my 8th graders off was hard, it was nothing compared to this year. I opted to write them letters as a way of saying goodbye. They signed my yearbook and wrote me letters. There were tears (theirs and mine). I had expected that graduation itself would be hard but what was harder was the morning. They got to leave school at lunchtime and almost all of them came to say goodbye to me before they went home. It was one of the hardest things ever.
So that's what I love most about teaching. I know people say that great groups come along all the time, and as one leaves you usually get another one. We'll see how true that is. But I know that I've been doing this for almost a decade now and I've never had a group like this. Next year won't be the same without them but I'm looking forward to hearing about all their next steps.