Highlights of My School Year
1. Teaching three A.P. psychology classes. (For years, I avoided A.P. because I thought “those A.P. kids” would be concerned almost entirely with grades. I’m feeling pretty stupid now. I got to spend time with curious, wise, and talented young people who inspired me every day.)
2. Those self-described nerdy A.P. kids sauntering into class, eager to grab study guides for a new unit. Really.
3. Teaching statistics in A.P. psych. Definitely kidding.
4. Bringing in panels of freshmen to help us review for tests. The freshmen were good sports.
5. Teaching two regular level psych classes as well. (A more leisurely pace, which allowed for lively discussions and tangents.)
6. Learning about differentiated instruction. (You have to be a teacher to appreciate this one. It’s a little like learning that running makes you tired.)
7. After all these years, loving teaching still (minus the grading and having to wake before 6:00 a.m. and meetings).
8. But realizing I am, under the new teacher evaluation system, merely “proficient” rather than “excellent,” as I have been in years past. Some people view this as progress, I guess. (Teaching ultimately comes down to trust. My philosophy: hire good people and trust that they will work hard and strive for excellence for intrinsic reasons and not for some stamp of approval—or disapproval. Sure, check on them. Verify that they’re busting ass. And get rid of them if they’re not. How do you know if teachers are working hard? Part of me thinks that teachers should have hiring and firing power because we know which teachers are not pulling their weight. But that would get unwieldy and messy, I admit. Or how about this: the people in charge can ask us what we think! Now there’s a novel idea. If you know a teacher, ask this question: how often have you been asked by an administrator in your school what you think about how the school should be run? I predict the answer will be, Never. Sorry. I really do love my job. Which explains the rant, I suppose.)
9. Eating tomato Florentine soup in the school cafeteria.
10. Taking in Writers Week XVII. Of course. See previous entries for details.
(This post is inspired by my good buddy, Gary Anderson. If you want to read his Top Ten Lessons Learned, go to http://whatsnotwrong.wordpress.com/.)