I know it’s been a while since my last post, and I apologize for that. It’s been crazy since I started the leave replacement teaching job! I just wanted to update you all on what’s been going on since then.
But first, I apologize once again for the horrid length of this post, but as always, it’s worth it! ;-)
Teaching is fantastic. It’s the best job in the world, even though most of us don’t get paid what we truly deserve. Though there are most definitely trying and difficult times in the classroom to deal with and manage, one student can make all the difference, and one “thank you” makes it all worth it. It continues to remind me that I was meant for this career.
I recently finished reading a book given to me as a graduation gift from my friend, another fresh graduate into the teaching field; Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul. If any of you are teachers or have read this book anyway, you know how inspiring and touching these stories truly are (there is even one story involving a Deaf student and her use of sign language!). I swear I had tears in my eyes through half the book, if not more.
To fellow teachers, students who have had an amazing teacher in their lives who helped or inspired, or even anyone who believes common misconceptions about a teacher’s life, please, pick up this book and read it cover to cover. I didn’t want to put it down. Each and every story reinforces my belief that I was molded to fit and belong in this profession perfectly. As cliché as it may sound, I hope that I may be able to inspire even one student in the same way.
Now, on to sharing the happenings in my life. Classes for the students officially finished last week (Tuesday, June 15 was their last day), and every day since then has been Regents testing (until this Thursday, the 23rd). For those of you who don’t have Regents in your state/country, they are state exams that students must pass in core subjects to receive full credit for the course. Now that classes are done and my “main” work is over, I finally have time to update you all!
The job was phenomenal. The first day I walked in, which was a Friday, and took over was basically and assessment day, to see how much of the curriculum they were actually taught and how much catching up I would need to do. When they knew that their original teacher was no longer returning, they literally cheered for joy. I asked them tons of questions about what they were taught, how much they knew, their testing procedures, and how much signing they actually did in class.
I also told them that I was here for them, and even though it was already almost the end of the school year, that it was a fresh start and we would put the past behind us and move forward from here. The kids were all really receptive to it, and were excited to begin learning about Deaf culture and American Sign Language, the natural language of the Deaf community once again.
It was a tough job, because they were so very far behind since the beginning of the year, but given the unique situation we were in, we all adjusted fairly quickly and easily, and everyone on the staff were very helpful and supportive. I even got to see a few of my old teachers as new colleagues! Especially the other ASL teacher (who taught at the other high school, where I graduated from), who had been my first ASL teacher at this school, my personal inspiration and reason for becoming so involved with ASL, the Deaf community, and teaching, and as more than her student teacher. It was wonderful.
Monday morning was a review session, to get them warmed up and refresh their memories of ASL (and honestly, to fix the mistakes the previous teacher had made in her teaching of the language, which proved to be continuous until the last day). Since there was so little time left, I continued with the unit of which they were already in the middle, taught them the correct material, and started the “review” for their finals (which was really a re-teaching of material from the beginning of the year). We had to work hard, and we had to work fast, but it was a great experience, and I had a blast doing it and working with them.
On the last two days of classes, with finals finished, I gave out blank paper and markers to the students and asked them to write their names on the top of the sheets. I then instructed them to pass their papers around, so each person can write them a message of something nice about them, or something they liked about each person, etc., so each student would have those messages and memories for however long they chose to keep them. I also signed as many papers as I could, and before they left, gave a short speech thanking them for their hard work and patience, for working with me and cooperating though it was the end of the year, apologizing for their bad experience with ASL and explaining that I now hoped they had a better vision and perception of the language and the culture, that ASL can truly be a ton of fun, and that Deaf people are some of the best people in the world with whom to make friends. They all responded really well, and actually clapped afterward and agreed that they now loved ASL! What a great feeling. I had also written my name on paper and passed it around to students, for anyone who wanted to sign it (one paper for each class I taught -- one class of Level 1 students, and one class of Level 2 students). I told them if they chose to write anything, they could also choose to write their name or be anonymous, whichever they preferred.
After collecting their responses the last day, the amount of messages were overwhelming. I received four full pages worth of “thank you!”s, “thank you for saving us/our class!”, “you’re a great teacher!”, “I wish we had you from the start!”, “I actually learned real sign language,” “you’re a great person,” and one girl wrote “I was actually able to sign to the Deaf man who moved in across the street from me. Thank you!” I couldn’t believe it.
Here are pics of the messages (in random order of different levels):
I had no idea if what I was doing made any difference to them at all, and yet, every single response proved that I impacted them tremendously more than I ever thought I did or could. It was an unbelievably touching experience, and though it was only a short time I taught them, I will never forget them or my time with them, my first real class of students, as long as I live.
Again, they reinforced my belief that I am made for this profession, despite any difficulties I may face now or in the future. It is the most rewarding experience, and I absolutely love this job!
As for the interview I went on shortly after I started, I never received a call back, which is a little disappointing, but it’s okay. It was a long shot anyway, and the school is about a 45 minute or more drive away from my home every day.
However, I do have another interview this week for a part-time position as an ASL teacher at another school closer to me. And even if that doesn’t work out, I was invited back to be a substitute teacher next year at the same school in which I just finished teaching. As long as it sticks, I may be able to see some of my students who will now be seniors, and maybe even sub their classes.
Though I’d rather be teaching my own classroom, it’s a trade-off to be able to stay in the district and schools that I love, and see my first real students again before they move on to college. To celebrate our graduations, our anniversary (yay!), and our new jobs, my boyfriend and I went on a weekend vacation to Myrtle Beach and were finally able to relax, unwind, and have a great time after all the hard work we had put into graduating and our jobs. We went jet skiing, went on a dolphin watch tour where we saw about twenty dolphins out that day (I LOVE dolphins, so for me it was the best day!), walked through Ripley’s aquarium, saw a laser light show to the beat of Led Zeppelin, and took a helicopter tour on our last day. We got some great pictures out of it as well, and overall had an amazing time. We didn’t want to go home!
So again, I apologize for the length of my posts (this seems to happen a lot, huh?). But I would also like to restate that I am living proof that dreams truly do come true.
I worked my ass off, and I was rewarded for it in the best way that I could imagine possible; from simple “thank you”s from my students. In only one month’s time, they felt I had “saved” them, and helped them learn to love not only the language and culture, but also love learning again.
My message is the same: Never give up. You never know for whom you are making a difference, and even though retail is and always will be a true Hell on Earth, accomplishing your goals and making your dreams come true is the Heaven that, in the end, makes it all worth it.
Thanks for reading, RHUers! Maybe my next post will be a witnessing customer account (and hopefully shorter!). Keep your head up.