First off, WHHHHATTT!? This is my 5th year teaching and I find that crazy. Maybe it’s because every year I seem to get a brand new class so I’m always learning; as frustrating as that is, I’m sure in the long run it’s better for me (blah blah blah).
In my five years teaching I have taught the following courses:
- World History Standard (2 years)
- AP Art History (3 years)
- Humanities I (5 years)
- Humanities II (1 semester)
- World History Honors (this is year 1)
- AP World History (starting year 2)
- Leadership (1 awful, awful year)
You can see I have a definite area of interest. 🙂
So what have I learned from year 1 to now? We’ll my biggest take away has been how to have a better home/work balance by losing the pressure for every lesson to be gorgeous, complicated, and perfect. I am way better at winging things now, probably because of the experience I have. Don’t get me wrong, I still spend too much time formatting word documents into PDFs and PPTs with funny history memes but I don’t worry about things that won’t matter so much in the long run. I’ve learned to let go…a little.
Read more: 2018-2019 School Year
I’ve also gotten comfortable with “my style” of teaching. I don’t how to describe it but it’s part anal-disciplinarian with off-the-cuff weird and silly – sounds backwards? I know. Here’s the skinny: I let me kids know right away what bothers me and what my rules are and I enforce them, always, but I then quickly become a teacher with lame funny jokes who plays awesome music and doesn’t mind relating my subject to pop culture, like how the Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars is really Augustus Caesar (& in Humanities I can’t avoid the word breast and penis even if I wanted to, which I don’t). I’ve notice my students get more comfortable with me faster while still respecting my classroom rules and academic standards (they are high and stay high throughout the whole year).
Read more: Hands-On Learning in AP Art History
I’ve also tried to stop planning so far into the future, and oh boy is this hard for me! My first year I desperately “needed” to have every day of the semester planned out and I would get my panties in a bunch when ANYTHING derailed my plans. I have learned that shit happens (i.e. hurricanes, “surprise” class meetings, senior “skip” day) and it’s twice as much work for me if I am not more flexible. However, I am still a compulsive planner so I’ve compromised by still having my lessons done without attaching a particular day or order to them. It’s a way to meet my compulsion in the middle and lessens the work I have to do when school is in session. Again, I think I can only do this because I am in year 5 rather than year 1.
Read more: 2018-2019 Humanities I Plan
This is probably not something my administrators want to read, but I’ve learned when to grade something and when to let it go. My first year I was determined to “really” grade everything, give feedback, and agonize over how many points to assign a student. Let’s just say at least once a week something they do is for completion or never enters the grade book. I don’t abuse this slack because I believe in giving credit where credit is due but I literally don’t have time to grade 150 free response questions every day and so I don’t. 🙂
Read more: A Conversation with a Student…
I’m sure there is more I have learned but that’s all I can come up with for today. Teaching is crazy but also crazy fun! I’ve been both cursed and blessed in this job but I don’t think I can see myself anywhere else. I mean where else can I rock out to music, play with Rice Krispie treats and watch 120 students actually argue over theories surrounding the creation and function of Stonehenge. The answer is no where and that is probably why I will also be going no where anytime soon. 🙂
Really excited to see what I learn in the next 20 plus years 🙂