It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone. I have always heard people say that every year goes faster. I am starting to believe that. This year was definitely the quickest. It happens to be my 20th year as an educator. That really seems unbelievable to me. That 1993 school year doesn’t seem that long ago. I remember like it was yesterday walking into my classroom with about 28 sixth graders staring at me.
We had blocked scheduling at my school and I was shaking like a leaf wondering how I was going to fill sixty-five minutes with a math lesson. As the years went on, that type of thinking turned completely around. I then began to wonder how I was going to fit everything I needed to teach, in the time that was given to me. I have had many wonderful students go through my classroom. Yes, I will be real here. There were also some that were not wonderful at all. They are the ones that take most of your time and energy. They take your time away from the student that you want to pay attention to. These are the ones that never seem to be absent. You know what I mean. They can also end up being the most rewarding.
I can think of one in particular. I would say that in my 18 years of being a classroom teacher, this child was absolutely the most difficult. I honestly have never seen anything like this student before or after. I was teaching science at the time. I re-tuned and refined my lessons all year long to make them more engaging for my students. In my presentations, I would utilize technology; include photos, video clips, and interactive and hands on experiments. It was a very challenging group of students, but this boy was a standout difficulty. We created a behavior contract, let him use a squeeze ball to help him release frustration, gave him incentives to keep him motivated, I made parent calls, and had parent conferences. It seem liked I was ramming my head against the wall. At the end of the year, I thought for sure that I had failed as a teacher. The standardized test scores came back from the state about a week or two after school let out. I couldn’t wait to see how everyone did. There were some great students that didn’t do as well as I thought they should have. But, the biggest and most awesome surprise of all was that my most difficult student passed his science test above the state average. Somehow, he was listening and learning and all I had done to help, even though I didn’t see it at the moment, had paid off.
So as you reflect back on your school year, I hope you will see more positives than negatives. If the negatives seem to stack up, just remember this. You may have made an impression on those students more than you will ever know. In fact, I am pretty sure you did. It may just be that your students were listening. They may not have shown it at the time, but it just could be that they learned something. And most of all, when you get those test scores back; you may get the biggest surprise of your life like I did. I can look back on it now and feel good even though I didn’t at the time.