Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A sign off and a new beginning.

I just got test scores back from the last class class I'll ever teach. The kids were kind enough, and worked hard enough, to let me go out on top. Out of the 1,839 kids in the school district sitting in the same course, taking the same test, my kids were the best. When I realized this and saw it in black and white on paper, I sat down and had a good cry.

Being a public school teacher is one of the hardest jobs in this country. And if you're a high school teacher, it's pretty thankless, too. This is my eighth year of sticking out and pressing forward, even when I felt like I didn't want to. Even when it felt like it would be easier to just give the kids a free day. Even when it felt like it would just be easier to write a kid up and send him out of class instead of pulling him out to have a conversation with him and try to get him on my side. Year after year of battling a system that's designed to fail kids, especially the poor ones. Day after day, week after week, year after year of this. And it's paid off.

This, the year my students and I decided from day one that this would be an English class, not a test prep class. That we would read and write and talk a LOT and not use acronyms like SAQ and STAAR and EOC and write essays in boxes with twenty-six lines. Instead we would read interesting books, and talk to each other, and discuss the hard topics even when it felt uncomfortable. We would write even when we didn't feel like it. I say "we," because we wrote together. They watched me draft and revise and draft and revise and mess up and start again, just the way I watched them. This is the year we decided we were going to actually SAY SOMETHING. And we did.

So thank you, kid who tried to burn down my classroom five years ago. Thank you for teaching me I could stick it out even when I felt a little scared. Thank you kids who broke into my portable three times six years ago. Thanks for reminding me that you don't need a cute classroom or ANY TECHNOLOGY to teach kids how to think critically. Thanks, super sweet kiddos, from the wrong side of town for showing me that sometimes, it's okay for me to be your mama or your auntie and teach you how to move through tough things in a graceful way both inside the classroom and out. Without you guys, my kids today wouldn't be at the top of their game.

This is it for me, one on one, teaching the classics to a classroom full of kids. A new adventure awaits. I'm committed to being as open, as determined, as persistent, and as successful in my new world as I was in the classroom. It's been an awesome ride, and I can't wait to start the new one.


Lynn Brooks said...

Cleaning out my bookmarked blogs and found this post. You are so talented in so many ways. Thank you teaching for so long you made such a difference! Good luck on your new adventure and have to say I love your blog!