Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hello again (Reflections on Fall Semester)

Goodness, I guess it has been a while. Now, to start off I am coming to the conclusion of a crazy semester of three different all new preps on block schedule. The good news? The semester ends next week and I have survived! Next semester I am teaching two Math II's and one Math III Honors.

I feel like after two and a half years I am finally realizing and embracing who I am as a teacher. I have always been one to want to do things right and be perfect but I am realizing that there is not one right way to be a teacher and no book or specific advice that will be bestowed upon me that I need to conform to. All of us are on our journey of growing as educators and we all need to embrace what we can contribute and learn from each other.  It is unrealistic and even undesirable to have each of our classrooms look the same.

Anyway, I am loving my job. It is crazy, frustrating and some days I want to bang my head on a wall or rip my hair out...especially if I have to try to explain triangle congruence one more time. But it is also so deeply rewarding. I've been learning to cherish the sweet moments, the moments where students are honest and vulnerable about how they feel about you and their class. Those moments when students say I'm the most organized teacher they've had even if I have personally felt totally disorganized. When they say I give a lot of work, but it is because they know I care. When they ask if I'm teaching their next math class, because they want to have me again. When they email they appreciate my videos and the things I do to help them above and beyond what I have to.

At the end of the day I am starting to see the difference I am making and that the days of frustration (and sometimes tears) are worth helping some students not hate math, others grow to like or love math and overall connecting with students to let them know I care.

One thing I've learned this semester is that being vulnerable matters. I have truly been myself this semester -embracing as I wanted to this summer - my totally nerdy, enthusiastic, math obsessed, tea-loving, organization-crazed self...and students have responded. My classroom environment is more positive and I feel like even those students who are often hard to reach have had more moments of vulnerability with me.

Last Saturday I led a review session for exams. I had about a third of one my classes attend which I thought was great for being on a weekend. We started wrapping up and my students were begging for me to actually sing for them (not just the quadratic formula to "Pop Goes the Weasel"). At the end I relented and did "On My Own" from Les Miserables. It was a great experience. Apparently I am now booked to sing for their weddings in several years ;-). They were so excited for me (and couldn't understand why I wasn't on American Idol...oh youth's naivete). As they were leaving chatting excitedly about it one of my students yelled back "We love you Mrs. Hester!!!" and that was a moment I will always treasure.

I'm in a reflective mood so this might result in a flurry of reflective posts. Enjoy =)

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