Sunday, September 2, 2012

Happy to Be in School Again

Teaching teachers is a most difficult job, and very few people are good at it. Very few. Most people who end up training educators have been, at one time or another, in a classroom, so the rest of us expect that those who choose to work in this part of the industry know what it takes to be good. It shouldn't be rocket science.

Just as we recognize the bad ones - and there are a lot - we recognize the good ones, too. There's nothing like the feeling of being praised by teachers, and I've been lucky to experience that on the receiving end. There's also nothing like the feeling of sitting through a training that's done well; we leave feeling respected, enlightened, energized, knowledgeable, and confident.

In my twenty three years of teaching, few openings have gone as smoothly as this year's. And that's with a not-so-great training on the new evaluation document we are piloting. It was the other two and a half days that made the experience such a positive one for all of us (you know when teachers are pleased because they are even more vocal about the good stuff than they are about the bad). That time included:

  • Collegiality: From the faculty rock band at Convocation to the teachers-led discussion of our summer professional reading, from the group lunches to the staff/administration Q & As, the connections between us and the sharing of critical information in creative ways were inspiring. 
  • Learning: We walked away from every training session knowing what we'd come to learn. Seems simple, but it doesn't happen as frequently as we'd expect. This time, we came, we learned, and we left - brains overflowing, but in a really good way. 
  • Fun: Our administrators had a prize bag for good answers, good questions, good ideas, and good comebacks at our very-long, very-chocked-full building meeting. They knew the content was important, but they respected that we weren't thrilled to sit through it, and they looked to us to choose the topic with which we began, they gave us frequent and ample breaks, and they allowed for meaningful conversational deviations that helped us get our collective heads around some pretty heavy new stuff we're doing. The Super Blow-Pops and the mega-boxes of SweetTarts and Good N Plentys were just sweet, sweet, sweet icing on the cake. 
Walking from our building to another on campus for the final session of our PD days, a student teacher who'd interned with us last year made a comment that resonated, and will resonate for days, for the rest of us. He said, "These new teachers must feel like they hit the lottery." 

I felt like I hit the lottery, too. I want to hold on to that feeling and take it with me through the school year. I want to share that feeling with my new students, who will come to classes on Tuesday wondering just what high school English will be like. I want them to learn together, and really learn, and I want them to have some fun while doing it. I want them to feel the way I did this week: happy to be in school again. 

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