Just like everyone else in these days, I’ve felt extremely lucky to have a job. Not just any job, even, but a job that I felt was worth doing, and was practically on my knees begging for not too long ago. I’ve been living in denial for a good couple months now. My future, as always, is insecure. I’m worried; I’m frustrated; I don’t want to start all over again. But I don’t have a choice, really.
Would it be different this time? Would I have more experience, stronger references, a demeanor of confidence that would somehow make it easier to impress. I don’t even want to think about going through all of that again, even having all of those things. But how do I not? I can’t fall into “Maybe teaching isn’t for me” excuses anymore. It would be one thing if I had completely faltered this year; if something or other had gone awry, but it has, more often than not, been too good to be true (and the irony of that is not lost on me). Maybe I should have at some point realized that it wasn’t going to last, but I did not. I’ve been living a fantasy reality.
There’s a word wall in the back of my classroom. The students created it. It includes words like: injustice, determination, protest, persuade, inform, outcast, greed, boycott, and intimidation. It includes examples from all the things we’ve read together this year. Characters who stood up for lower class sailors. Characters that stood up for the environment. Characters that stood up for women’s rights. Characters that stood up for the homeless. Characters that stood up for worker’s rights and illegal immigrants. Characters that had to dig a little deeper into themselves to realize the difference between right and wrong, and how difficult that can sometimes be for anyone. Characters who realized their own prejudices. Characters who had to go against the status quo to make change a possibility, and who risked something of themselves.
This wasn’t the main focus of my year, to teach them these things. These were by products. My focus was to make them readers and writers. The crazy part of all that is, I think in the process I’ve become a better reader and writer, myself. I’ve become a better teacher and learner. I’ve been reminded of all these things that are important to me in my life. If they walk away with even one of these words, or one of these examples, I think that in and of itself will be enough to have made this worthwhile.
If all of this came out of one school year, what in the world is next year going to bring? I really have no idea.