Monday, August 25, 2014

2014-15, Here We Come!

School starts this week!  I am very excited to get the school year going.  This will be my 29th group of shining, new faces.  I love that I love it so much after all these years! 

They say that students don't always remember what you teach them, but they always remember how you make them feel.  I think that goes both ways.  What I mean is, I don't remember all of my students' names, and I certainly don't remember every one of my own lessons, but as I look back over the years, I have some very specific memories of my interactions with kids. -- Most of them are positive!  :-)

One of my first great memories, and the story that I always tell new teachers, happened in 1986, during my first year of teaching.  I was very young -- just barely 22 -- and I was teaching Spanish 1 to 7th and 8th graders.  There were students who seemed to like me and students who seemed to not-so-much.  I was very insecure, and had started to develop some "Me versus Them" feelings about some of my classes. I had wanted to be a teacher since I myself was in 7th grade.  I sometimes cried on my 45-minute drive home from school, thinking I had made a huge mistake.

One afternoon, as I was coming around my desk to begin the day's lesson, I tripped on something -- a backpack or the garbage can, I can't remember what it was.  The students who were nearby began to laugh, as was, I'm sure, natural.  In that moment, I was faced with a choice, and the insecure, shy, young part of me wanted to glare at those who were laughing -- wanted to make them show me some respect.  Thank goodness I didn't give in to that part of myself!

There were several other students who had not seen the "incident," and were wondering what was so funny.  In a freak moment of wisdom beyond my years, I did something that completely changed the way that I saw my relationship between myself and my students.  I re-enacted the clumsiness so that no one missed out on the fun.  I stopped taking myself so seriously!  It was a watershed moment, and probably the reason why I am still here 29 years later.  I can't remember those students' names, or what the lesson I was teaching them that day, but I remember in strangely vivid detail the whole scene: the tripping, the laughing, the urge to get angry, and the sudden change of heart that enabled me to recover not just my dignity for that day and that hour, but also my ability to roll with the punches - to enjoy every day no matter what it brings.

Happy 2014-2015 school year!

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