Thursday, June 23, 2011


As you may have guessed from the barrage of posts, the school year is over! I made it! I have a whole list of topics on which I plan to write over the next weeks, but I wrote the one about testing before this one because it's the word I want to end the school year on: joy.

One of my students asked me if I liked being a teacher, and because she's the most thoughtful 15-year-old I know I gave her the long answer, which is yes, because. I had not even had this thought before, but when the words came out of my mouth I felt as if I could not have made a truer statement: This has been, without a doubt, the best year of my adult life. 


-I love students. I love their passions and their frustrations, watching their bodies and ideas and brains grow. I even love how narrow-minded they are (most of the time), how conservative they are. I think that's one of the most fascinating things about them. I love cracking their brains.

-It is intellectually challenging in a way that motivates me and gives me energy, unlike my previous job, which was certainly intellectually challenging, but without the other part. I love turning over teaching challenges in my mind. I think about teaching in the shower, on the drive home, and when I'm walking my dog. The best lessons come about in a eureka! way--your brain approaches them from the side, when you're not looking.

-It makes me love my content more, not less. I have read more novels this year than in any other year I can remember since college. I'm grateful to grad school for making me a great reader, but teaching adds yet another layer to reading, because I have to read with two or three sets of eyes and two brains--my own brain, the brain for which these ideas and words are unfamiliar, and the brain that wants to create a bridge between the two. I actually actively look for examples of rhetoric, or figurative language, as I read. It's crazy. Plus, I have come back to the aesthetics of reading in a way that I have missed for years. I take joy in reading. Something about being around adolescents all the time puts you more in touch with your adolescent emotions. I cry more, reading, at movies, and watching TV. As I've written here before, most people think that teachers are cynical and burned out, and I certainly am both, and often. But teaching has rejuvenated me in amazing ways too.

There's this joke in education: elementary school teachers love kids, high school teachers love their content, and college teachers love themselves. I've done all three, and I think all three are true about me.

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