today is easter sunday. Or as my pastor back home always calls it, resurrection sunday. i have to say that since living in memphis, i have a greater appreciation for holidays because of seasons. i think that in many ways, my first year of teaching has mirrored the seasons of the school year; it started out green and full of life, then slowly withered and died, with things getting harder and harder and harder until i was pretty sure i'd be fired or let go by mtr any day. winter was cold and bleak, with bare branches and a low, grey sky. not getting worse per say, but definitely not getting better. i worked very, very hard from january until march to get my kids to know that i loved them, and to get my curriculum prepared each sunday so that i'd have some sanity and rest come mid-week.
i remember driving to work one morning near the end of february, and noticing the tiniest little buds on the branches of a tree. no green yet- not even a flower, but it was something. then i smiled and thought to myself, 'could this be the beginning of a new season in my class?' it was a full month later, however, that i had that moment. we were reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and I had finally reached the point of "setting my kids free" to read silently and independently. Now, you may ask why that is such a big deal. I have every reading level from kindergarten to tenth grade, often in one class, so making an assignment where everyone can read and no one gets left behind is difficult. My kids had begged for weeks to read in groups, but my coach said I needed to get them to read independently before we could do that. this was day 2 of independent reading, and they had a page full of questions to answer as they read. it was my homeroom, a class with more personality than you can imagine, and i looked around and realized that every single student was reading intently, writing, and not looking around to see if everyone else was still working. they were INTO the book and doing the best they could because they knew it was due at the end of class. i stood in the corner of the room- not a single student even noticing that i was watching them- and as a huge smile crept onto my face i thought 'look at the calendar! mark this day down- march 21st!' it was the day they finally were bought in- they were driven, they were working hard, they trusted that i wasn't giving them crap to do and that i believed they could do it.
it was magical.
"this, this!" i thought, "is what i want to do." not call home, write referrals, preach at a kid for not having a pencil AGAIN, or grade abysmally low test scores.
not that everything is rosy. not every student is always working hard. their homework completion rate is terrible and i fear high school will murder them. but they are changing. they are pushing themselves harder than they have all year and now i just hope i can keep that momentum going into TCAP (our standardized tests) and our next unit: the taming of the shrew.
Shakespeare? with eighth graders?
why, of course.