Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2:25 Always Comes (End of the Year Thoughts From a First Year Teacher)

"Relationships are your sword in the good days and your shield against the bad days."

You have a story to tell. Lots of people told me not to smile until Christmas. I'd imagine if you've done any teaching yourself (or told anybody you want to teach), that you've been told that too. Smile and nod and say "absolutely, that's what I've been told" and then throw it out the window. What they mean isn't false, kids need boundaries, they need rules and they need to know that you mean it. Set high expectations and keep them. But please, smile on the first day, and smile often. You are far and away the thing that can make or break your classroom. If you're happy to be there, sooner or later, your kids will be too. The more they get to know you, the more questions they ask, the better questions they ask, the more you get to know your students and the more fun had for all. Don't be afraid to be/tell your story, especially if that story smiles, a lot.

Kids have stories too and they will tell you. They will tell you that they had corn dogs for breakfast. They will tell you that they stayed up until 3am texting their latest-in-a-long-line-of-girls/boys-who-they-will-love-forever. They will tell you about their parents who are there for the long haul and their parents who left them here in hopes that they'd find a better life. They will tell you stories that might make you doubt the validity of their sentences and stories that you wish were untrue but know aren't. Learn them and don't forget them, relationships are your sword in the good days and your shield against the bad days.
(by the way, word to the wise: refuse to let them drink Gatorade or those slushie-things at lunch, 45 grams of sugar is enough to keep stories coming for a solid 35 minutes of class time.)

Love is the end-all. When people ask me why I teach, I often have a hard time articulating the exact emotions I feel, but what is comes down to is this: I love my kids. From 7:45 until 2:25 every day, 74 beautiful, intelligent, dumb, crazy high school students (and their myriad of ridiculous friends) come through my door and interact in my classroom. And they are insane. completely and totally bonkers. but for 90 minutes a day, I get to love on as many of them as humanly possible. and that's all I've ever asked for really. 

There became a saying in my first week of teaching, that 2:25 always comes. No matter how awful you blunder your first class period, that all-important first meeting with the impressionable youth that you'll have to corral into your classroom every day, no matter how awful you blunder the next one or the third one or the 80th (trust me you'll still blunder at 80), your 2:25, the end of your day, will come. I promise. When you are a hot second from a break down, when kids won't sit down or shut up, let alone both at the same time, when administration just does not understand, when they just "aren't learning", trust me on this: 2:25 will always come. 
Soon, you'll forget that 2:25 is the moment you've been waiting for, when suddenly it's no longer the moment you've been waiting for. When sometimes first period walking through your door is the best part of your day or when catching a colleague for that 27 minute lunch is priceless, 2:25 will disappear. and teaching might even become just a little 

good luck, friends.

Guestblogger Katie MacMillan entered the teaching world through Teach For America after graduating from Harvard. She is currently in her second year teaching, and she is an awesome human being (my words, not hers). 

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