A week after our last class, I reflect on the semester. It was a learning experience, certainly. For us, the teachers, I think we learned that material isn't everything. For the students, well, I hope they learned some of the material. But even if they didn't, I hope they took away some inspiration. I'd be pretty happy if any of our students tried to write outside of class, and actually, I know some of them will.
At Thanksgiving dinner, I had a conversation with my Uncle about his experience teaching, because it's something I've been giving serious thought to lately. He teaches fourth grade in New York, but he's bounced around a lot, from junior high to high school, and he finally settled in elementary. He said the older the kids get, the more passionate about the material you, the teacher, have to be. But, at a younger age, you have to be passionate about the kids.
Looking back on our eighth graders, it was apparent some needed more guidance than others. The ingenuity squad were the easiest to handle. They were focused, but I also think they knew that this class was a break from the grind for them, so they took it in stride, and I think enjoyed it. The other team had more trouble. I wrote before about our dropouts. I think now that it's hard to take that as a failure on our parts. The class wasn't designed for them to miss their other class and not make up the work. But at the same time, I wish we could have shaken them and said, 'hey, this is really cool and important and you should take the time to get your other work done because you're really good at this and you have great subject matter and an ear for language and penchant for story telling.' That's kind of an impossible thing to tell someone, though. But our two soldiers who stuck it out understood this, I hope. Both were extremely creative, and we had pretty relentless fun with them. I hope we made it clear that they should keep this up. I think we did.
It's strange to think back now because there are so many things I wanted to convey, and now I'm mostly left saying, 'I hope I got through' in some way or another. Being a teacher is hard. But as a first experience, I would say this was really rewarding, and has made me rethink a lot of things, as I hope we inspired the students to do as well.