Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Happy Election Day!

I thought today that I would do some reflecting on the school year so far. This may be interesting to negative one person?

If you are new around here, I am in my 29th year of teaching high school Spanish. I taught at one school for 4 years, one school for 2 years, and now am on my 23rd year at my current school. I have taught Spanish Level one through AP. This year I am teaching 3 Spanish Level threes, 1 AP Spanish, and 1 Spanish Level one.

I absolutely think I was meant to be a teacher. I really think I get to use what I am good at and what I enjoy every day. I even love putting in grades in our online grading system. What a nerd, right? The things I don’t enjoy are grading long essays, talking about data, and going to meetings that could have been an email. What I most enjoy are the funny kids and the relationships we form, planning fun lessons and activities, and talking ideas with other teachers.

So, how is this year going?

It’s hard and lovely and fun and draining and wonderful and exhausting and all the emotions!

I recently had a really good day in my AP class. They were all singing along to some Spanish verb tense songs and it was really great. I have this class first period and it is mostly seniors so the tardies and the senioritis have been a challenge.

Also, we participated in a song challenge during the month of October that was really fun. Each day we had to vote between two songs in Spanish; everyone had made a bracket just like in the NCAA tournament but with songs!

If you haven’t noticed, I really like to use music in my classes!

I try to do something fun some Fridays after our weekly quiz. AP and Spanish 3 really like Spanish Scrabble! Many had never played before in English!

I have mentioned this to a couple of friends. I don’t think I have ever gotten close to my students faster than I did this year. I think they were open and I was open. I think we quickly found our class jokes and our quirks together. It has been really fun!

They are juggling so much, though. They don’t get enough sleep, they play sports, are part of organizations, hold jobs, take hard classes with lots of homework, and more. I just think it’s too much. I don’t exactly know the solution, but I would say that the money they receive in scholarships will pay off way more than a part time job, so if they can, forgo working during the school year or at least only work on weekends? Maybe I am coming from a place of privilege when I say this?

This year has definitely felt more normal. We had our first pep rally since 2019!

I don’t give much homework since the pandemic. I try to make good use of class time and really think about how our time is best spent. I know that I am at least 5th on the list of priorities usually. They have Math, Science, English, and Social Studies that are the required core classes. Next might come me as their World Language class. I don’t give busy work or worksheets. When I give homework, I try to make it a project (a part of a project), original sentences about themselves or a paragraph about themselves, or to study for our quizzes. I do expect good attendance and their focus when we are in class. Online translators are really a problem for language teachers. We can usually tell when they have used one because it will give a verb tense we haven’t learned or a certain way of saying things that are dead giveaways.

A highlight was our classmate singing in Spanish at our pep rally!

One thing I think I am doing well with this year is more work/life balance. I am leaving work at work for the most part and not checking email too much after work hours. It has really helped me!

I hope I don’t have to eat these words, but now that I can retire, I feel like I am able to let the little things roll off me more than before. I have seen all the trends in education come back around with new names. I am confident in my teaching style and I try to be true to myself. Because you know what kids of any age can smell? They can smell fake! That’s not to say I am not willing to learn new things. It simply means that I know my core values and my teaching philosophy and those won’t change.

It’s hard to believe we have only 10 school days until Thanksgiving break! When we return after that, we have only 15 school days until Winter Break. I always say the first semester flies by.

So, if you are a teacher, how is your year going?

If you are a parent, how is the year going for your kids?

What do you remember most about high school?

Amy

16 thoughts on “Teacher Tuesday

    1. Yes! I find it kind of comical. Someone will say they have the latest and greatest and our district pays big money for them to do a workshop for us. I wish they would save their money and put it towards the kids!

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  1. This was interesting to read! Thank you for sharing part of your teaching journey with us. I’m always fascinated by this other side of someone’s life that we don’t see everyday. I know you’re thrilled that things are starting back after the pandemic. How awesome to have a pep rally again! I know the students loved that. I think about you and my teacher friends so often as they navigate things that they never thought they’d have to go through. I pray for all of you so often!

    I think the one thing I remember most about high school is how great of a relationship I had with a small handful of teachers- my French teacher (Madame, as we called her), a geometry teacher, a chemistry teacher who I met at Chick Fil A for the first time ever when he worked there and my senior English teacher who often let us meet her at Perkins for study helps and late breakfast. That’s why I am always amazed by you. You seem to have that same kind of relationship with lots of your students and I can tell how they love and respect you. It makes such a huge difference! So, on that note, I hope your day is great and that you’re encouraged today.

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    1. I worried it would be boring, but I also like to have these memories for myself. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop on our more “normal” year. We were masked for the first month and I fear we will go back to them. Some kids are hanging on to them.
      We really appreciate that and feel them. I know your prayer worked when I was having a rough day a few weeks ago. It turned around for me.
      My high school teachers and my youth group leaders were my most influential people for me. We have such a huge responsibility and a captive (mostly) audience so while I don’t try to push an agenda, I do talk about how I handle life. I think the kids today are looking for role models in all the wrong places – Tik Tok, reality stars, etc.
      Thank you so much for being a bright light of positivity in my life and in all of your readers’ lives as well!

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  2. Wow, congratulations on teaching 29 years! That is amazing and perseverance right there. What an impact you have had on so many kids and I’m sure they have made your world brighter too. So thankful the year feels more back to normal with pep rallys. Just curious, what influenced you into teaching Spanish?

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    1. Thank you! I hope I have made an impact and I know they have made one on me! I will never take for granted the more “normal” things that make it so memorable!
      I always thought I would be a teacher (but I tried to deny it for years – from maybe 7th grade to sophomore year of college) – and I fell in love with the Spanish language in high school, went to Spain in high school, and then the two loves came together in college, I guess!

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  3. I love this! It’s so refreshing to hear how other teachers are doing, especially teachers that teach different subjects and ages than I do. I agree, this year is closer to normal but it’s still hard! Good for you on the work/life balance. It’s so difficult because there is always more to do. When I left the classroom and moved to media, I was really good about only bringing home books to “work” after hours. I fell back into the bringing work home habit over the past two years and it really took a toll on me and my kids took notice. I’m working really hard to make the absolute most of my time at school and get back to bringing home books only.
    I will say that I am not as close to retirement (it is my 21st year) but I am feeling the same way. I do what is asked of me combined with what I think/know is best for kids. And I don’t worry too much about it.
    Your students are so lucky to have a teacher that clearly cares about them as people and students and works so hard to make sure they are learning. And you make it fun, too!
    Both of my boys are in middle school now and it’s going well. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Thank you! It is hard and will always be. I am constantly trying to work smarter and more efficiently. I would say to get back to that better work/life balance so that you can fill your cup at home and be on at work. It’s more important than ever I think. You are aware and that will help you!
      Great philosophy in staying mentally strong to always put the kids first and the admin tasks can wait.
      You are so kind. I am not perfect, but I do care and I love my job and you just can’t fake it with kids.
      Middle school was great for us. I didn’t understand why so many people scared me about it!

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  4. Love this post! This is the perfect time to reflect. I agree! First semester always flies by. I feel like this year has been really good but I feel like every year has been stressful since 2020.

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    1. Thank you! It is! I agree – and then the second drags and you are praying to the gods of snow for a snow day, even if you have to work virtually! I agree. I have never felt so needed and torn in so many directions.

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  5. Great post! I started out teaching French (Maine and CT), for 7 years, and then for 5 more years in Florida. Now Iโ€™m on year 15 at my current middle school, teaching intensive reading. I know Iโ€™m good at it, but itโ€™s a mandatory elective, and I get a lot of kickback from students and parents. I do have some great students, though, and I enjoy getting to know them. I also have a class with 6 emotionally handicapped and then 3 regular ed kids. A few can be extremely disrespectful, and I buzz the office to have them removed; it can be stressful, but I get great support from Admin. I only have a total of 67 students total, so I can do remediation, but some students are disinterested and reluctant to read. I have found there is more off-task and disrespectful behavior since the pandemic. I go through periods where I gave a lot of anxiety and sleep issues relating to work, and then other times I feel more optimistic. I hope to teach 10 more years. Itโ€™s hard here, morale-wise, in FL because as a professional/tenured teacher, I get a smaller raise, 25% less yearly, because I refuse to switch to an annual/yearly contract. The state is trying to bust up teacher unions. There are 15,000 teachers in my district and 184 schools, and lots of job openings, so at least I have job security!

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    1. Thank you! So interesting! So you get all of my WL teacher references! It sounds like you have your work cut out for you. That sounds very hard even with 67 kids. They all need your attention and energy! That is not fair about the 25% less. Oh, yes, we certainly do have job security right now. I just found out we get another 4% raise for next year which will be a totaly of 9% since the 2021-22 school year so that is definitely appealing to me to stay longer.
      Happy weekend! Also, start doing the Goli Aswagandha – just one about half hour before bed.

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  6. What a great post! I find it so interesting and inspiring! In Swedish schools we have three core subjects: English, Swedish and Math, and I enjoy the opportunity to teach two of these subjects. The advantage is that the students prioritize my subjects – or maybe it’s a disadvantage? ๐Ÿ˜€
    I so understand your feeling around retiring, that you actually are free to leave whenever you want… My closest colleague is in the same situation, and she’s actually much more relaxed and happy!
    When it comes to pros and cons of teaching I have the exact (!) same list as you!
    btw: can’t wait for Christmas break… ๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. Thank you! You don’t value Science and History? I think I am like your colleague but somedays it is hard to get around the feeling of being frustrated by the extra tasks or the few annoying kids that don’t care.
      Winter Break seems far off to me. December 16-January 5 is what we get I think.

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