I have a deep fondness for my students. They may not even realize the extent of it and, in a way, that is probably good for both parties. While I get annoyed by some things they say or do on a semi-regular basis, I am rarely angry with them. And I cannot help but consider how I have grown over the past four years of teaching.
This year, my fifth year, has become more of a reflective year. I have considered multiple times how my responses have changed toward my students. What might have caused me frustration or anger in the past, will often lead me to just shaking my head with a smile or laughing until I’m nearly crying.
For example, this week I had to instruct a student to not eat cereal in class. It wasn’t a little zip-loc bag of cereal but the entire plastic bag simply removed from the box. Or, when my students were ‘diligently’ working on their study guides, I came across one student drawing. The drawing? It was called “The Science of the Dab” and it outlined in written directions as well as sketches how to properly dab. I nearly cried from laughing so hard. Or being asked a million times my thoughts on the election leading up to it and then my thoughts post-election.
Never will I claim that all my students like me. I don’t think that is possible for anyone, let alone me with a less-than-charismatic personality. And I don’t know all of them as well as I should, but I love the feeling of camaraderie that can be found in my classroom at different times. Sometimes I’m too sarcastic and I look too much for their recognition when I am telling jokes. Other times I am tired or frustrated and I let that show pretty openly. But sometimes, we are all working together toward a common goal, we laugh, we learn, and we embrace life together.
I am not yet the teacher I ought to be. There are many areas where I can be found lacking and, given the chance, I’m certain my students could compile a sizable list. But I am so different from how I was my first year teaching. In fact, I feel a bit sorry for that young teacher and wonder how she made it through the difficulties. For several reasons, my first year was the absolute hardest year. In my first semester, I was told that a student was lying about what I was teaching and that made me physically ill on one occasion. I was all too aware of how close in age I was to my students. Then the typical first year teacher problems of writing all the tests, quizzes, worksheets, and lesson plans.
In the midst of the craziness that is every school year, it can be helpful to reflect on how I have grown and how much easier teaching is now. Of course, there is growth that is still needed. But now I can say that I laugh with my students more days than not and that is good for everyone involved.