Friday, March 28, 2014

I used to be a public school teacher

Today, it occurred to me that I used to be a public school teacher. I know it seems like a hard thing to forget, and it's not like it was that long ago. But in some ways, I feel like it was a whole different life.

Anyway, as I glanced over my to-do list with this mug in hand, I couldn't help but flashback to some teaching memories that came to mind. I didn't really blog the year I taught elementary school music, at 2 different schools, pregnant the first half of the school year, then on maternity leave, then back to work with a newborn at home. [Gee, I wonder why?]

But, I did write intermittently that year I taught high school. Looking back on some posts I wrote, and thinking back to that 'different life,' I felt nostalgic. Some things I learned then have stuck with me... so whether you're a teacher, or a parent, or have no regular interaction with kids whatsoever, here's 5 things I learned from my first year teaching high school music in a public school: 

1. Teenagers are teenagers. There are a lot of factors that influence a high school student. However, the "teen" part - hormones, facebook, life threatening attachment to cell phone, thinking high school drama is equivalent in importance to war, mood swings - all that stuff is the same across the board. Regardless of where you came from or who your mom is, teenagers are teenagers. 

2. Although teenagers are teenagers, where you come from does make a difference. What happens at your house, who supports you, how many jobs you work, how much money you have, it all makes a difference in your education. Some kids have to overcome a lot more obstacles than others to get that 23 on the ACT. 

3. Don't box kids in - try new things. You might be surprised by what they enjoy. I took 20 students to the opera my first year teaching. They talked about it the rest of the year and begged to go back. When I announced I would not be returning the following year, a few students asked if the new teacher would be taking them to the opera too. 

4. Greet students (and all people) by name. It makes them feel important. It communicates that you care. And if you're a teacher, your smiling face greeting them at the door every day of the week as they walk into your classroom (however slow moving, eye rolling and gloomy they may appear) might be the only consistent thing for them that day. 

5. Pray for your students. I can name 3 instances from that first year where a child's behavior and learning in my classroom took a 180 degree turn for the better after I prayed for them by name. 

And a bonus personal lesson - I learned I wasn't crazy (at least from the kids' perspective.)  

Sometimes it's good to look back. And it's always good to look forward. 
Happy Friday :)