Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Junior High Teacher's Listicle.

This week's Listicle is based on that of an elementary school teacher named Ellen who wrote about what she would and would not miss if she retired from teaching. I realized that many of the things on her lists would be the same as mine, but given the difference in our grade levels, there were also some differences. The original suggestion for the Listicle was to write about things we would or would not miss if we died. Like Ellen, when I die I don't plan on missing a thing here. The sights offered in Heaven will be so far beyond the most beautiful sunset on Earth, that I won't long for anything else. So I decided to copy Ellen and make my own teacher lists.

If I retired from teaching

I would NOT miss

1. Gossip. I'd call it lunch room gossip, but it's everywhere! Walking across campus, in the hallways, in the parking lot, someone will stop you to tell you what someone else is doing. They'll give you information you don't need. They'll give you information that hurts your feelings. They'll give you information that is true. They'll give you information that is an unfounded rumor that later turns out to be false, but not before it's done a great deal of damage. Nope. Definitely not going to miss that.

2. Parents who have abdicated responsibility for raising their children. I once had a mother tell me, "But he gets angry when I tell him to do his homework."
And you wonder why I rant so much.
Yeah, I pretty much had  no answer for her. If you've gotten your child to the eighth grade and you're not making him do anything that might make him angry, I just have no answers for you. It takes a lot to leave me speechless. This mom did it.

3. The Union. There I said it. I want my union to negotiate my salary and be sure I'm treated fairly by my employer. Other than that, I want my union to sit down and be quiet. Unions have no business getting involved in politics at all. It's impossible for a union to fairly represent the political outlooks of every member, so they should just leave politics alone.

4. The Restroom Run! I do mean run. When the passing bell rings, I have 5 minutes to shoo all 34 students out of my room, lock the door, zip across campus, use the restroom, zip back across campus, and get another 34 students in the door before the tardy bell rings. In my current classroom, this also involves stairs. I will not miss that run.

5. Puberty! We'll leave it at that.

6. The Letters! Borrowing this one from Ellen because I just can't go without mentioning the acronyms. For the STAR I have to give the CST. For the CELDT I need to have my CLAD. A BCLAD would be even better! In order to become a teacher I had to take the CBEST and the NTE. Fortunately that was a  long time ago, and I'm not required to do BTSA. At the beginning of the year, I need to check to see if any of my students has an IEP that I need to be concerned about. This is especially important for the ADHD kids. I won't be teaching my RTI next year, but it's okay because I'll still have my GATE class.  Most of these acronyms are state specific, so if I move to a new state, I have to learn a whole new set of acronyms. The one that follows us all though is the dreaded NCLB along with its AYP and its potential PI.

I would miss

1. The Light Bulb Moment. When a kid is struggling with a concept, and I can see in his eyes that he suddenly understands, there's no greater feeling in the world!

2. Gratitude. Every once in a while, a high school students comes back and says, "I'm really glad you taught us that because we use it all the time. Some of the other kids are really having trouble getting it." I got a letter from a boy who thanked me for working with him to help him pay attention in class. I could have just sent him to the office every day, but that wasn't going to teach him any English. I had to find his motivation and appeal to that in a way that made him want to pay attention. It worked. He's grateful. I can die happy.

3. My coworkers.  The non-gossipy ones. I work with some really great people. They're smart, caring, dedicated professionals. They care about their students and their coworkers. They help and support. They are there with a joke or a hug when you're having a bad day. I'll definitely miss those people. I'll especially miss my co-teacher/partner, Julie. She's been there for me every day for 16 years, and I'm a better teacher because of her. Also, she makes the Starbucks runs.

4. The kids. The ones who work hard and want to  learn. The ones who make me laugh. The ones who write wonderful stories. The ones who think just a little differently from everyone else. The ones I can count on to start off a discussion. The ones who like to read so much that I have to insist they put their book in their backpack. The ones who enjoy public speaking even when they having nothing to say. The ones who enjoy public speaking and have something to say. The ones who hate public speaking but do it anyway. The ones who tell me at the end of the year that I'm their favorite teacher even though I've just spent nine months restraining myself from strangling them and wondering if they even talked in their sleep!

5. Learning. Being a teacher means always learning. We learn in workshops and trainings. We learn from books we purchase independently. Mostly we learn from our students who help us see new ways of looking at things and people. That's the learning I'll miss someday.

So what about you? When you leave the job you have now, what will you miss? What won't you miss? Leave a comment!