New Year...New students...refurbished me

If you are not a teacher, the fall may not hold any special meaning other than changing weather, pumpkin spice lattes, and the start of fires in the fireplace. For teachers, August means something else...the beginning of a new year.

Each year, a new group of students enters the classroom with varying sets of baggage. Some are excited at the opportunity, others are already feeling grouchy over the new beginnings.

I teach math, not everyone's favorite subject, and often students come into my room with a predetermined set of ideas of how the year is going to go. I have to audition for them, gain their trust. In the first few days, students will decide what they believe about their own success in the upcoming year. I need to convince them that I am on their team, that I have their success in my mind.

Not every teacher feels this way...not everyone feels that the first days of school is an audition. Especially at high school, some teachers feel that their job is to instruct, deliver the information at hand. It is then the student's job to absorb, take in.

I have always worked hard to make connections with my students, but in these last few years my mission has changed...I have changed. Even after almost twenty-four years of teaching, which I am not sure how that it even possible, I am changing. A few years ago, after having some of the worst years of my career, I began to see that I really am the one who needed to change. I needed to be more culturally responsive, more academically responsive, I needed to adapt my view.

I have (almost) always taught in low income schools, which for me is a bit like coming home. I have always believed that the reason I am where I am is because of those teachers who really took an interest in me, saw something special and created a picture for me that showed me the future...s future where college was not only an option but a reality.

These teachers...the Mr. Jiminezes and Mr. Borings of the world, inspired me to take time with my students...be real...help them to see who they can become in this crazy world.

I am not become new and shiny...I have been teaching far too long for that...I am decluttering and refurbishing...it is a new year and I am ready...Ready to help students create their future, ready to clear the path...

I am ready...

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