question, comment, concern?

by taylordoe

The past week or so has been pretty tumultuous, with some of my best and worst days thus far coming within moments of each other. It got to the point where I found myself saying, “Well, at least no one quit or got fired today.” (We lost three teachers in two days, which was traumatic to say the least.) Despite all that, I feel that we are somewhat starting to settle into a groove as a staff at school. I work with some absolutely incredible educators who are so gracious in sharing their experiences and knowledge with me. I am truly lucky.

There has definitely been one big shift though… I’m starting to love teaching. I am having fun with my kiddos and finding myself irrationally excited over their success. (What?! We had a day where EVERY student mastered our daily objective? YEAH WE DID!) Don’t get me wrong, it is still extremely  difficult and there are numerous times when I still feel like I am drowning in my inexperience, but compared to where we were a few weeks ago, 212 feels like a whole new world. The kids are starting to be excited too. As one of my 8th graders said to me today, “Misses, I really hated this class. Now I kind of like it.” When you teach an entire class of the lowest kids in the grade for nearly two and a half hours, this is a huge compliment.

I really, really like my kids too. They’re smart, interesting, hilarious little mini-adults that keep me on my feet every single day. I wish I could capture some of the things they say on film, because I think people don’t believe me when I repeat back stories. The thing that I find so striking about them is how curious they are. They ask questions about everything, which can lead to some oddly-timed inquiries, but I love that they want to know more. I do my best to answer questions, but the kiddos have a knack for asking unrelated questions in the middle of a lesson. So, to avoid getting off topic, I borrowed an idea from one of my closest friends here Anthony, who will ask students with raised hands, “Do you have a question that’s on topic, comment or concern?” Comments and concerns get tabled until a more appropriate time and questions that are on topic can be asked. I get such a kick out of seeing them scribble down their questions so they can ask during their independent work time.

Perhaps one of my favorite activities so far has been when my kids wrote fictional narratives. We worked on them for a week, with multiple drafts and lots of peer editing. My kids were so invested in this assignment and were excited to share their own original stories. One student, A, wrote an incredible narrative titled “Evil Poptarts.” In the story, an evil mad scientist named Dr. Eskanaskovich gorges himself on poptarts. After growing tired of forcing millions of poptarts down his throat, he decides to put microchips he has stolen from the US government into the poptarts, so that they will come to his mouth to be eaten on their own accord. But! Alas! Dr. Eskanaskovich has forgotten that the stolen microchips are evil! The story continues with the poptarts taking over a city and eating all the inhabitants. Trying to describe the story will never do it justice, so I am going to try to find a way to scan a copy and post it here so that it can be appreciated in its full glory.  Seeing A’s face when he got to read the story to our class was so gratifying. And best part? On Tuesday, A came into class with a sequel that he had taken upon himself to write and type, titled “Return of the Living Poptarts!” Seeing a kid who is that excited and proud of something he has created himself is the absolute best feeling in the world.

All in all, things are going pretty well. I think back to where I was a year ago and am surprised to see what a different person I am today, but in the best ways possible. I have grown so much — I am more independent, more self-assured, more motivated and more invested in myself. And I have found a place where I feel like I belong. I am lucky to be doing this job, to have the time I do with my kids and to be making an impact on my little corner of the world. And when I have a bad day, I always have “Evil Poptarts” to lift my spirits.