I’m not going to lie. I was more thrilled on the last day of school this year than I have been any other year since I began teaching. I said good-bye to my students with a huge smile on my face, happy to know the year was over and I could begin my 2-week break before summer school begins.
Truth be told, I had a rough year. The dynamic of my eight students was something I had not yet experienced as a teacher. I struggled the entire year to build a positive classroom community, to build positive relationships with students who didn’t seem interested in having any kind of relationship with me, and finding ways to motivate my students, many of whom were extremely hard to motivate. What worked for one student did not work for the other seven, which is often the case with the population of students I teach. But at times, it would create a more unmanageable environment for both teachers and students than if we just left things status quo. A behavior plan that worked almost perfectly for a student one week would fail miserably the next. I found myself absolutely exhausted – mentally, physically and emotionally – at the end of each day. On the last day of school, after dismissing these children for the last time to their bus matrons, babysitters and parents, I let out a huge sigh of relief and high-fived my assistant teacher because we had in fact survived!
Over the past 2 weeks I’ve had the chance to reflect a bit on the past school year. I’ve been thinking about and writing down what worked, what didn’t work, and started to think about the ways I can improve both the content of what I teach and my teaching of the content when I get to do it all over again in September. And what I’ve discovered about this amazing profession of teaching that I’m in is that at the end of each year, I get to hit the “reset” button. I can use my knowledge and experience of the prior year in terms of shaping the next, but I can leave all the negative stuff behind. And for that, I am truly grateful! Happy Summer, everyone!