WOW, has it been an absolute doozy of a year. For reasons both professional and personal, I’m not terribly sad that this school year is coming to a close. Though I will miss my French program at my current school, I am really looking forward to a change of scenery and a new set of challenges as I move forward with my education this fall. I think it’s going to be really good for me. I really appreciated Martina’s most recent post on finding your place in the world, because if there is one thing I’ve learned in my 28 (almost 29…gulp) years of life it’s that you might make a plan, but you never know what factors could influence the path you’ve imagined for yourself. It’s impossible to predict who you’re going to meet, what connections you’ll make or what opportunities may arise that influence your journey on (or deviation from) that path. I leave my high school teaching position with the plan that I’ll return at the conclusion of my studies, but the idea that I very well may not is always at the back of my mind. So it’s with that in mind that I write my end-of-year reflections.
No one is a prophet in their own land. I’ve had several teachers and administrators whom I admire tell me this over the course of my career. For the past two years in particular, I’ve been really trying to foster change and growth in my department, but it’s been a challenging road. I’ve done the best that I can to adopt a honey rather than vinegar attitude, which at times has been a challenge. As I move on, I hope that some of the things I’ve shared have made an impact somewhere, and that someone else will be willing to be the voice of change moving forward. Even if I never return to secondary teaching, I hope to keep helping other teachers move toward a more proficiency-based approach, and to continue fostering my own growth in that area as it is something I am passionate about.
Sometimes “less” really is less. In terms of my teaching practice, I tend to adopt a “less is more” attitude which I generally think serves me fairly well. However, this year I think I went a little too “less” and it showed in my students’ performance. It is always my goal to be more diligent in my planning, to more clearly target exactly what I want my students to accomplish, and I simply haven’t done that well – particularly not this year. An area for improvement in the future!
It’s all about the relationships. At the end of the day, your relationship with your students, your colleagues, and yourself is the most important thing. Whenever I feel badly about how little I seem to have taught my students, those are the moments when I overhear them saying, “I learned so much more this year!” which is really all I can ask for. School has become so high-stakes these days that it’s easy to forget that it’s just French class. What I do is important, yes, but I’m not curing cancer and most likely, the bonds I forge with my students will be remembered far longer than some of the content.
And so with that, I wrap up my fifth year of teaching and move on into the semi-unknown. I can’t wait to see what I’ll be reflecting on (and looking forward t at this time next year!