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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Teach in the Moment (Dear Katie V2 #9)

Dear Katie,

The other day at school,  I went down to the gym to get ready for soccer practice. Some of my former students, who are now sophomores in high school, came back to play basketball with my principal and some junior high boys.   I walked through the gym as they were warming up.  A few stopped, walked over to me, shook my hand and asked how everything was.  It was special they approached me first, usually it's the other way around.  It brought back great memories of classes and times on the baseball field (they also played baseball for the team I coach).  They were great boys and would love to have them in class forever.  But that isn't life.

You have students for one year.  ONE YEAR.

And it flies by.  I have learned, even in years that I have rough students, there are always kids that can bring a smile to my face; who are motivated to stretch their thinking and creativity in my classroom.  In those hard years, focus on the students who are appreciating you classroom.  They are there.  Don't wish the bad years away so quickly.

It's only ONE YEAR.

One great thing about my time teaching at the Christian school I was at for 7 years was that as the upper school history teacher, I was able to see my students grow up.  My relationships with them were not just for one year, but 4 (and sometimes even longer since I often had contact with them from an earlier age since K-12 was all housed in one building.)

That isn't the case for most teachers.

You only get ONE YEAR.

So many fond memories.  So many laughs.  So many "ah-ha" moments.

In ONE YEAR.

As you teach, you will be surprised how much students will influence how you approach the topics you cover.  You will find yourself predicting the questions they will have, the misunderstandings that may develop, and the solutions to bring clarity.  The key to the lesson may be develop because five years earlier some student gave you an example or an idea to use in future classes.

Savor every moment.

For the ONE YEAR.

My soccer team this year was not expected to do well.  Some of their best players went down to injuries throughout the year.  And they kept winning much more than they lost.  I had two great captains, my on-field coaches, who were respected and led by example.  If some menial task needed to be done, they were the first to volunteer.  The season is now over.  I will never coach half the boys again because next year they will be playing for the high school.  As I went through this enjoyable season (that ended on penalty kicks in the semi-finals of the county tournament) I tried to take in as much of what was happening.  Remembering the examples of what can be accomplished when a team works as a team will be wonderful stories to share with future teams, and allow me to relive the memories.

Memories that will travel far beyond the ONE YEAR.

You will never become financially wealthy as a teacher but you will possess a treasure trove of memories that no one will ever be able to take away.

Uncle Kevin

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