I am… done with my second year.
Today marks the end of my 2nd year of teaching and the end of my Teach for America commitment. Although I have decided to stay in the classroom in the fall, I cannot help but look back on the past two years and gawk in wonder at where I am compared to where I begun – in so many different ways. I thought I would share some of my lessons learned and most fond memories of those two years. (FYI – I am a high school physiology teacher in an inner city Bay Area school)
- Whether I believe it or not, throughout these past two years I have made an impact. Even when I fumbled to stay afloat in the classroom in the first months until my last teaching day on Monday, it is very humbling when you receive feedback from students that you are doing something correct or see success happening. As I read what some students were quoted in saying about me in the yearbook, including a thank you in their senior dedication page, I waited until I got home to allow their words to sink in. When one gets stuck in the day in day out rut, it is hard to look past and know it means something.
- Support is support in whatever way you can show it. If it is attending their sports game or dinner or showing interest beyond the classroom, then they catch on to that and they are more likely to trust you. However, this form of support needs to be consistent and something that the students believe is genuine.
- Be myself. My sarcastic and humorous personality came through this school year whereas last year it was missing. The students were much more responsive and seeing me act like myself allowed their personalities to shine through.
- Sometimes the path we have drawn out for ourselves is not the one intended for us. We must be willing to look beyond our straight and narrow road in order to see the one that we are better suited for. I spent much time until a few months ago ignoring the idea that maybe teaching is the right job for me. Once the weight was lifted, I felt more at peace with taking a chance and staying in the classroom.
- Listen. Students have a very unique way of requesting your attention or what role they want you to have in their life – big or small.
- Be patient. My tone of voice and responsiveness were much more calm than last year. I had written on a post-it in my desk during my first day “Patience. End Vision” and it still lays in my desk. Understandably, we all have our moments, but I learned to control how and what mine were to be about.
I am only in the process of soaking in California and the life that I know I can create for myself here. I decided to reflect on teaching because, well, that is where my heart lies – with those students as we spend months together.