The End of the Year: 2012-2013 in a Nutshell

Tomorrow I will be finishing up my seventh year as a teacher, four of which were spent teaching elementary students and three with high schoolers (whom I much prefer). All in all it's been a good year- there have been more positives than negatives, which is all that any of us can ask for.

My students have been an absolute joy. I taught four sections of IB English HL 1 (and yearbook, of course), meaning the first year of a two year series. With a few exceptions, I'll be taking the same group up to their senior year next year in order to prepare them for their big examinations in the spring (although I'll only have enough students for three sections; I'll also have an AP class). I've grown incredibly close to some of them- I'm already dreading the 2014 graduation when I'll undoubtedly have to stash a box of Kleenex under my robe. They're definitely an eclectic group. I've never laughed so hard or been so distracted from things I've needed to be distracted from.

I think a lot of times people assume that teaching the more advanced classes is easier, since there are less behavior problems, but I can definitely attest to the fact that this is not true. Despite that this is a higher level class, we are an open-access school, meaning any student that wants to take the course is permitted. This is definitely a great, fair approach, but it does mean more differentiation than one would think. Overall, there's more prep work involved, so much more grading, and the kids demand a high level of mental agility from me on a daily basis. Yes, I'm not dealing with being sworn at or assaulted, but I do get plenty of attitude- sometimes the smart kids are a bit too smart. There's also the pressure of knowing that the students are going to take a large assessment when you're done with them that dictates whether or not they receive college credit. Like with anything there are the pros and cons.

This year we read a lot of fantastic literature. We went back to the Greek and Roman times with Antigone, learned about magical realism and complex narrative structures with Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and pondered the reason why, and if, Gregor was turned into a bug in Metamorphosis. Spring semester brought us slavery and discussions about independence with Their Eyes Were Watching God, teenage depression with The Catcher in the Rye, and the dramatic "Master Harold"... and the Boys. I drilled MLA formatting into their heads, nagged them about writing better theses, harassed them about their outside reading choices ("John Green is not academic, college-ready literature, guys!"), and was relentless with sticking to deadlines. I worked hard to help them to cite evidence from the text and force them to think independently and creatively. Did it work? Sometimes, yes, sometimes, no. But I can honestly say we all tried. There was a lot of growth in my room, both in terms of the students as readers, writers and thinkers, but also in my professional abilities.

There were definitely times where I wanted to beat my head against the wall. The few students who plagiarized, typical issues amongst the staff, and the workload (and meetings!) surrounding the transition to Common Core were things that made me roll my eyes on occasion. But honestly, the fact that I have some fantastic colleagues (and friends) and that I had the privilege of working with some great kids made up for the occasional problem.

That being said, I am ready for summer. It's time to recharge (by my pool with books and cocktails).


  1. It sounds like you had a fantastic and challenging year :) Now, enjoy the summer vacation! Read some books, recharge your batteries, and enjoy a few quiet days :)

  2. Sounds like a great year! Even when we are happily counting down toward summer, saying goodbye to the kids is always tough. You never know if/when you might see them again. (I had a former student pop up at the drive through window at Dairy Queen. I just wanted a post-run blizzard and looked a hot mess, but I was overjoyed that she was working and remembered me!)