The New Year: Seven Years Later

If someone had asked me ten years ago what I’d be doing now, I don’t think starting my 7th year teaching high school English would’ve been my answer.

If you haven’t read my really old posts, I started teaching with zero experience. Zero. I’d taught exactly one lesson when I walked into my interview. I’d never subbed for another teacher. I’d never student taught. Zip. Nada. Zilch. I walked in cold with keys to an empty classroom.

Two weeks before the 2008-09 school year started, I stared at the vastness that was my classroom. And then I built a tree.

Having a comfortable classroom is part of my teaching style I guess. And I had plans for that giant paper tree in the corner. It took me the better part of a day to get it up and looking just so. I hadn’t received my curriculum yet so why not build a tree?

Seven years later, I’m still concerned with what goes on my walls but I learned that hand-built trees aren’t appreciated as much by the audience as they are the maker.

Seven years later, I still cringe when I think of that first group of kids I taught. I’m still mortified by my greenness back then and feel sorry for them. Except for 7th period. They were the spawn of Hades. (But not Pearla – she was so sweet and timid and a hard worker. I felt sorry that she was in that class.)

Seven years later, I still reflect every year and try to do better by my students. I know there are still (STILL!) teachers that pull out the same lesson plans year after year. In this age of dwindling unions and Common Core, that practice is diminishing. And maybe it’s just my own boredom that gets me to keep changing how and what I teach each year. I just can’t imagine teaching the exact same thing every year. Even if I teach the same novels because that’s what the novel list dictates, I still come up with a different way to approach it.

Seven years later, I still believe that I’m actually making a difference somehow. It’s hard to see the impact when I’m knee deep in the muck the kids throw at me on a daily basis (apathy, excuses, laziness). But I think it happens. I do.