The End of the First Year

Trip Start Jun 24, 2006
Trip End Aug 10, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Oregon
Tuesday, June 20, 2006

So the school year ended. Without fanfare. Without drawn out reflections, without tears, without one last pep talk or motivational lecture. I simply signed some yearbooks, wished my students well and locked the door behind them. I wrote no poems, no prose, I took no nostalgic photographs. I didn't over analyze and process to death. Completely out of my character, I know, but also out of necessity. I was just too tired, too exhausted, too emotionally drained to summon up the strength and energy for one last song and dance.

Nonetheless, I'm proud of what we've done this year. I'm looking forward to the next. I am, without a doubt, an educator. What a satisfying feeling. And I feel like we've accomplished something special. Although success is measured in baby steps around here:

Dalton actually smiled in my class today! Josh pulled his grade up to a C-! We finally placed Andre in a Behavior Classroom! The kids were excited by today's lesson!

Ahhh, but our kids are still poor. And part of me still pities them - an emotion I've been fighting all year. I've done right by most of them, although it's not enough to turn dysfunction into prosperity. I just keep forcing myself to measure success on an immediate and small-scale basis. Well isn't that life, I guess I might be growing up just a little bit - a well kept secret between you and I.

We measure success on an immediate and small scale basis while assuming that our efforts will have unseen and yet unknown benefits for the students we teach, keep busy, love, hate, cajole, reward and remind.

I became a teacher because of my worldview. I don't concern myself much with a creator, I do not believe in divine intervention or other forms of fate. I believe all the best things and all the worst, the miracles and the evils of life are creations of humans and humans alone. I believe if progress is to be made, it will come only through hard work and the kindness of others. I believe I am working for social justice in the upper north hall, room 201.

And an interesting thing happened: this year taught me to measure success on an immediate and small scale basis, while believing that the true rewards of my efforts will be impacting in some unobservable way in my students' futures. We have to believe - to keep us going, to keep our spirits high. The bleeding heart agnostic found faith. There's a hell of punch line.
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