At our last staff meeting of the year, we were asked to write two things on “the wall,” a giant piece of butcher paper that serves as a sort of teacher exit ticket after each meeting.
The first thing we were to write was what we learned about ourselves this year.
I wrote: “I can do it.” Big emphasis on the can.
The second part was what we learned about our students.
“There is good in them.”
Sometimes it takes me awhile to come up with good, thoughtful answers for these type of things. But for these, I knew my answer within seconds. I was third to the wall to write my answers, only because the first two people were sitting right next to it.
How in the world did I get through this year? I still have no idea. For all practical purposes, someone like me, who hates to be in front of people, hates to be in charge, hates conflict, and, did I mention hates being up in front of people?– someone like me shouldn’t even consider teaching as an option. And yet I did, and I got through my first year, with the most ridiculous, crazy eighth graders to boot.
There was drama. There was conflict. There was a lot of me putting my foot down and having to put my “mean teacher” face on to get them to settle down and learn. And there was a lot of me being in front of people. 130 little-ish people, every day.
I did it. For a whole year, I did it.
(But thank the Good Lord it’s summer time now. I don’t know how much more I could take.)
The part about their being good in them… I had my doubts for the first half of the year or so. I know the first year is generally the hardest for a new teacher and all, but I can confidently say this was no ordinary class. I’ve heard stories going all the way back to second grade of these kiddos and their shenanigans. These kids gave me grief every day. They were defiant. They talked back. They talked during lessons. They skulked and became sullen when they were required to work independently (“what do you mean, no talking?!”). They got angry when they received discipline for doing the most ridiculous of things that you would think no one would ever dream of doing in Algebra class.
This was no ordinary class of thirteen-year-olds.
But now, and this may be the last week of school euphoria talking, I can say I really have enjoyed these kids. Despite all the craziness and the sleepless nights and frustrating arguments, there really is so much good in them.
They are helpers to the extreme. Anything that needed to be done, they all were raising their hands to volunteer. Or asking me ahead of time if I needed anything done. I didn’t have to pass back papers, clean the board, or take out the recycling all year. (Super bummed I did most of my own filing though. Didn’t think of doling that out till last week!)
They are super bright. They asked questions I would never have expected of 8th graders. They asked questions I’d never thought of. They came up with new methods of solving problems on their own. They cared about their grades (albeit some only when test day came along).
They’re quirky and ridiculous, which is great because I’m quirky and ridiculous. They have said and done some of the funniest things I think I’ll ever hear. I will forever remember the time in fifth period where someone said something that was just so random I couldn’t help breaking my straight-face, down-to-business mode and the kids were just thrilled when I had to pause to laugh at the ridiculousness. I just stood there shaking my head and trying not to smile, but it was just too funny.
We have exactly one week left of school. Two more days of lessons this week, and three days of 8th grade activities, ending with the moving up ceremony next Wednesday night. And then they’re gone. These 130 kids, whom I’ve fought with and fought for the past 9 months that have seemed more like 9 years, will move on to high school, and most of them I’ll never see again.
That’s so weird.
So here’s to one more week of school. One more week of picking battles, practicing patience, and enjoying the laughs they bring.
One more week.