And I mean really love it. I was thinking this morning as I was getting dressed that this has to be one of the best years in my teaching career. I can say that I love my job. I mean really love it. If every year goes as well as this one is going I will teach at this level and this subject until they kick me out.
What makes it so good? I can’t put my finger on it. It’s everything and nothing I guess. So many small things that add up to a whole of work nirvana.
This year I have a group of kids I really connect with. One class in particular. We laugh, we work, we play, it’s FUN. And they work hard, really hard. I’ve gotten this class to do better work then I’ve seen out of a group of 8th graders in ages. It’s wonderful. One class like this a year could sustain me for a really long time.
My friends here are beyond words amazing. When I started teaching it was rocky. I really struggled for the first couple of years, which is a story for another day. My room is isolated from all but the other teacher in my department. I would love to say that the two of us are best buddies after 9 years of teaching together but sadly we aren’t and I don’t think we ever will be. But in those same 9 years I’ve made friends. Really good, life long, life altering friends. The kind that cause my heart to actually ache when I think about moving on to another school.
Of course I love my subject. I love art. Everything about it. Photography, drawing, painting, clay, music. All of it. I love getting dirty and experimenting. I love watching the kids figure out the materials and come up with their own way. I get such a high from sharing what I know and watching the light bulb go off when they figure out how to sight and measure when drawing or when they get the proportions of drawing a person. Or when I can help them understand an artist or a painting and really get into it – I love that.
The building I teach in does it right. Well not everything, but almost everything. We are strict. We get flack about it from other buildings in the district but over the last few years I’ve learned that follow through earns respect. If you say it has to be done then you better make sure it gets done and here we do. We also aren’t afraid of change, to be proactive (for the most part). We make changes. Changes that are good for kids. This year we are piloting a new schedule that is designed to hold kids accountable for finishing high quality work. It been a rocky road these last two months because we’ve also learned that holding kids accountable for high quality work in turn means that the teachers have to be held accountable for high quality work. Not everyone is cool with that but I’ve really been so pleasantly uplifted to see so many people that are.
This morning it was proved to me even more – I love this job. As I watched the 16th annual Lip Sync contest and I was lucky to witness a very brave act. Our life skills teachers and students (these are kids with Down Syndrom and severe emotional/mental handicaps) got up on stage and preformed for the whole school. And they were AMAZING. And even more amazing than their act was the response that the rest of the kids at school gave them. When they started their act the music was wrong. You would never have known it. The entire gymnasium was cheering and clapping like Zac Efron was busting a move on stage. The music got fixed and the kids and teachers did their routine. They were brilliant and so was the audience. The only act that got louder applause was the faculty act where the male teachers dressed as women.
I hope that 25 years from now when it’s time for me to retire I still love this job as much as I do now.