Just as students receive report cards, I evaluate my own teaching performance throughout the year. Knowing this year was going to be tough (because I had the best year in the world last year), I really went in with a clean slate. I didn’t compare the students to last year’s. I worked with them where they were and gave more of my energy because they needed it. I have never been more exhausted than after my 7th hour senior class, full of football players, exited the room every day. They took every ounce of my patience, skill, and love. As a “glass half full” gal, I made it my goal to make sure I was smiling when they entered my classroom and smiling when they left, with some tough love in between. My effort was successful because they learned what they needed to and enjoyed it more than they’ll admit. I know this because they told me in end of the year cards and stops by my classroom after the semester was over just to chat.
In other areas, the newspaper was the best it’s ever been. iPads helped the writing and editing process substantially this year. Our desktops hold our design programs, so iPad availability made writing articles, conducting interviews, and copy editing more timely. I’ve also found an editor at the local newspaper to be a great resource. He answers formatting and editing questions for us and promotes our articles through social media.
On the other hand, the yearbook is on my “needs improving” list for next year. I found numerous areas that didn’t work this year, and I’ve already taken steps to guide this program in a new direction next year. I find the balance difficult between allowing students to make a publication their own while still following my (legal, ethical, and company) guidelines. If I wanted to make the yearbook as close to perfect as possible, I’d do it myself. It’s not my book. That means there are errors, and it’s beyond frustrating.
Every year my eyes are opened more and more to what my students go through with their peers and family lives. I suppose it’s because as I get to know my students more, they open up more. This year was more than I was probably ready to handle. Helping these students through adult situations just made me want to hug them and never let them grow up. If only their parents knew what we as teachers know… No matter the story, it’s always a good reminder that students often enter and leave a teacher’s classroom with the day’s homework or quiz at the bottom of their priority list, and sometimes that’s completely acceptable.
Overall, it was a great year: A- range (the yearbook brings my average down a lot). If I were ranking every year, this one comes in at 2nd place (out of six years)! There is room for improvement, and I don’t plan on waiting until August 20th to implement change.