Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Years Day is in September

To any of my former students who may read this:

"Thanks for the respect you displayed in my classroom and the overflowing bag of memories you have given me that I can continually open and enjoy the rest of my life."

As a student and as a teacher, I love the first days of school.

As a student, it was opening up the new binder and writing the first words of notes on to the blank sheet.  Remembering how I believed I came of age as I chose not to buy the Trapper Keeper with the pictures of baseball players on it (and it was before the days of the extensive use of sports licensing, so these pictures were just drawings of generic baseball players) and I chose to get the old blue canvas binder.  You got to see your classmates that you didn't spend time with over the summer and it seemed like one big awesome happening.  And as I got to college, that feeling only intensified.

And then the hard work of school work swept away all the euphoria.

The nice thing is you began every September with a blank page like the sheets of loose leaf paper in your notebook.  Every year I declared this was the year I was going to give it my all to receive an A in all my classes.  I rarely was able to achieve that goal and mostly it was because I allowed the social aspects and fun and games to distract me.

But, hey, there was always next year.

It is much the same way as a teacher.  I come in the classroom and rip open the boxes of supplies I ordered from the previous year.  It feels a bit like Christmas.  I know I may sound like a geek here, but I really enjoy the new electric pencil sharpener I got this year (sadly, students today do not seem to know how to operate my hand crank one).

The first day of teacher workshops you get to see people who over the years have become friends rather than just co-workers.  The best way to explain the atmosphere is like it is when you enter the cafeteria at college on the first day back from summer break.

And then the kids come in.  A new adventure begins as each class you teach has a individual student helps to create a class personality.  Figuring out how to reach each one of them is part of the fun of being a teacher.

If the class is awful, you only have to deal with it for one year.

More often than not, it is the opposite.  As you work with these kids, and you enjoy their contributions in class, and you laugh with them and get excited for them as you watch them succeed, you realize that too will come to an end.

I was reminded of this the other day when a girl from the Christian Heritage Class of 1999 that I taught posted a picture of her class from their junior year.  And then the onslaught of comments from those kids were listed underneath.  The good natured ribbing reminded me of how their class always seemed to make me laugh and to this day I still say that their class more than any other took full advantage of my teaching style, and the ideas and conclusions they shared in class and the creativity they displayed in their video projects are still some of the most cherished memories of my teaching career.

Since it was a private school, I had the privilege of working with these kids for 5 years.  Although sad that I may never see almost all of them again, I'm happy that I had the honor to have taught them.

And in my 21 years of teaching, I do reflect on the kids who impressed me with their thinking, astounded me with their work ethic, surprised me with their ability to overcome obstacles, or just made me laugh out loud (and some of my students will tell you that is not easy to do).

And one of the reason I love Facebook is that it allows me to see where some of those kids I taught either at CHS or BRMS are today.  And it is awesome when I see they have become all-state, or passed the bar exam, or got married, or their kid lost their first tooth.  I am so proud of all of them.

So even though it is with great sadness I say goodbye to all of my former students, the great thing about being a teacher is that I get a whole new crop that will create all new memories every year.

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