Here is my list – written in a “First Thursdays on the Second Wednesday” “Writing Retreat Without the Retreat” session. Hey, that’s just how we do things at Northern California Writing Project. It’s fun. If, after you read it you feel drawn to write one too, consider yourself tagged. Comment me so I can go read yours!
25 Random Things About My Teaching
1. It didn’t occur to me that being a teacher was a good idea until about 1990, when I was already sick of another career for which I had gone to college. I had to go back and start again.
2. It turned out to be a really good idea for me to be a teacher. A high school teacher. Many times I have wished I’d thought of it sooner.
3. It still surprises my Mexican American students when I understand their Spanish. They are way surprised when I speak it much like they do. They then change their impression of me, deciding I must surely be Mexican and just not look like it. I have to tell them that although I would be honored if that was the truth, it is not.
4. My Hmong students never think I am Hmong. But we like each other a great deal anyway.
5. I love teaching English to Newcomers, but I haven’t done it for a really long time. They are really funny and so earnest, it makes it really rewarding.
6. I don’t think this has anything to do with my teaching but I love American Idol. But maybe it is connected, because those young people are so avidly, earnestly following their dreams and that is what I try to help kids to do.
7. I teach AVID (See #6, above). This class is all about helping students develop the skills and knowledge needed to go to university and follow their dreams. It teaches them to dare to dream, which is not something they have ever been taught to do.
8. I love to share books with kids. I like it when they get excited about reading cause it is something I like so much. I always think that if only I can find the right book I can get any kid excited to read. It has actually worked quite a few times.
9. I teach seventh grade. Let that digest a minute. Above I said I taught high school for a long time. Seventh grade is new to me. Way new. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever figure it out.
10. Yesterday I told a kid he could redo a quiz about complete subjects and predicates. In the space for writing the definition of a complete subject he wrote: “Did the pig poop on my clothes again?” That is par for the course.
11. Two days ago I asked the assistant principal how long one of my students was suspended for bringing lighters to school, hoping it was for about six months. I learned that it was only five days, but they think he is selling pot at school and he may be giving it to his buyers in my classroom. So says the mole to the probation officer.
12. I don’t believe that any of my students except the above mentioned reprobate would want anything to do with pot. And I’m sure he is not giving it out in my classroom.
13. I have a way of denying what I don’t want to know. I have long years of experience with it.
14. I have an administrative credential. I thought I wanted to be an assistant principal, but I’m not so sure now that it probably isn’t going to happen any time soon anyway. I would miss a lot of fun and not fun things if that were my job. I’d get more money, though so it’s a tough choice. Except it isn’t a choice at all these days when most of the APs are being returned to the classroom.
15. I stay after school two or three days a week knitting with seventh and eighth graders. They learn it way faster than I did. It is pretty fun to have the kids that are usually silent chattering away while their hands are busy. I’ve received a lot of donated yarn through freecycle.com, but I’ve spent a lot of money on knitting needles. It’s a donation.
16. I have found some of my favorite people ever through my work and play with various parts of the Writing Project. Who knew such a wonderful source of professional development would also be where I would find such special friends?
17. I am frustrated by the firewalls our district puts up in front of everything interesting. They do it with sites on the Internet also…
18. I really dislike pacing guides and McDougal confusing cluttered small print too much to choose from Littel. Having to follow it makes me a boring teacher, I think.
19. I usually don’t think people understand the whole ELD thing. When people say it is just good teaching, or it is just intervention it makes me crazy. I have mostly learned to shut up and not enter arguments about it. Mostly. Sometimes I just can’t help myself and I jump in. People usually don’t much like it when I do that.
20. I think I might have a reputation for being too outspoken about certain things connected with teaching (see #19).
21. I don’t really care (see #20.) I say what I see. Mostly. Unless I just am too worn out to get into it.
22. I love long weekends and long vacations. I make big lists of what all I will do to be a better teacher when I go back to school, but I hardly ever do any of it.
23. I am tired of looking at which standards my students have not achieved proficiency in. They have hardly achieved proficiency in any of them and it’s not their fault or my fault. We’re all doing our best, and I’m sick of being compared to other teachers, and having my students compared to native English speakers.
24. I wonder if I will still be teaching when I am seventy. Or eighty. Or if I will come up with something else to do before then. Surely I’d be used to seventh grade by then.
25. Writing about teaching reminds me of how big it is, how long it lasts and how important it is. I just hope in some little way I actually manage to teach something of use to somebody.