Saturday, March 30, 2013

I work daily with kids I trust and whose company I enjoy

It's true. I do.

I teach a pair of challenging courses, one at which I'm relatively new and one at which's I'm seen as an old sage. Ironically, the one I've been teaching for some time has not seen my best teaching.

That would be history. In a school year in which it feels like there is never enough time to get everything done, I've walked away from each week realizing that there was one thing on which I failed to keep up. Unfortunately, for many weeks, I felt like it was my teaching of history that was uninspired. I spent so much time preparing for Economics, a course at which I'm just becoming proficient, and so much time got consumed by department matters, that I often took for granted what I could get done with history. Now at the end of a long year, it seems as if those kids got the short end of the stick.

It's a two-way street, though. For many of them, the advanced nature of the class was a bucket of cold water. Many of them ended up having more to do than they bargained for. Many of them had a very hard time juggling their other course responsibilities with the responsibilities of this one. Perhaps many of them are thinking back on this course and wondering if, too, they let me down.

In a situation like that, I'm appreciative for something very basic that I instinctively do: show the students that I like them. It's so critical in this job for the teacher to show his students that he likes them. Even if he has to pretend (this is very much an acceptable lie). Students are perceptive. They know what a teacher thinks of them. And even if they sniff out a teacher who is pretending to like a class, at least they know the teacher's heart was in the right place.

Fortunately, I didn't have to pretend. I did like these kids who I struggled to teach and who struggled to meet my expectations. They know it. And here at the end of our experience, I can reasonably expect them to rise to the final challenges of this tough course: preparing for a final exam and a national exam. Preparing for challenging course that will characterize their senior year.

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