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Ask Me In October

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My school year has ended: the high school wrapped up June 5th and the college ended June 11th. Typically, these early weeks of summer are spent shredding or filing stacks of papers, pulling weeds, meeting friends for lunch, and reflecting: What did I do well? What can I do better? What can I do differently? But this summer is different. I’ve already begun working on next year!

Next year I’ll be taking on the full time role of English teacher – not a new role for me; I have nearly 30 years of classroom experience and 40+ years in Education. But in some ways it’s very much like my first year of teaching – 4 preparations instead of 5, 4 different grade levels instead of 3, unwritten curriculum, state standards to incorporate in whatever I do, lots and lots of work, and students who don’t really know me as a teacher.

The difference is, unlike a new teacher, I know what I’m doing; I know the curriculum; I know the kids and many of their parents; I know the teachers; and I know the culture. Also unlike a new teacher, I don’t have the blind idealism that we all started out with. I don’t feel like a new teacher; I feel like an invigorated one. I’m very excited about possibilities.

Much of my excitement comes from the response of the staff and the students when my new role was announced. Kids that I had fought with all year about taking responsibility, “owning up,” being respectful, wanting to do and be better, being kind, being good citizens, taking school and their education seriously – these were the first to say they were happy and looking forward to next year. My response was always the same: tell me again in October!

I’m particularly excited about the senior class. Part of my responsibilities includes being senior class co-advisor, a job that can be very time-consuming and often stressful. But I look forward to working with these kids, first, because they are nice kids and good students. They are also the class I started with, so I’ve watched them evolve from middle school through their final year in high school.

I’m excited about the junior class because my experience tells me there are huge changes in kids from their sophomore to junior year. They begin to “get it,” to know the importance of graduating; to recognize the need for a work ethic in school and in work and in life. They have been a challenging group because there are a lot of them and they are smart and loud and, to date, not very serious. But I saw small but steady changes as the last school year ended; and I’m hopeful that my experience proves accurate again.

I am excited about the sophomore class as they are a particularly motivated and academic class. They care about their grades, all say they are going to college, most do the work that will get them there. And I’m excited about the freshman. I don’t know them as well, but I do know they have a collective “personality” and enjoy school.

So my career has gone full circle – young, naïve teacher, veteran English teacher, director in a private educational program, parapro, part-time classroom teacher to this. I am excited and happy and a little daunted. We’ll see how it goes.