School Year Reflection 2010-2011

Each school year starts out with fresh eyes and high hopes of all the great things you are going to do over the course of the year. Then it ends with you being tired, beat, burnt out and just wanting it to be over.

As I watched the excitement that the students had while they were piling out of the room to begin their summer vacation this morning.  I smiled, laughed a little and thought back to the first day of the year.
How nervous they all were, especially my new 7th graders.
Although the changes were not as dramatic as the movie “To Sir With Love” there were dramatic changes in all of my students over the course of this past year.  It wasn’t that many are now taller than I am, that they had become young men and women, that they had had great grades on their final report card or improved their standardized test scores.
The biggest thing that I noticed about the students in my homeroom this year was how much most of them had matured and gained more self-confidence in themselves. Many of them are much different today than they were when we started school in the fall. Some of the students that I have had in homeroom for both 7th and 8th grade, the changes were even more remarkable and dramatic.
These are the changes that are not measured by standardized tests, but they are the changes that determine if many of those students will be successful in life or not.  I am extremely proud of the small part that I may have played in some of those changes.
School is almost over for me.
It is now over for the students and tomorrow school will be over for me.
I know it is over because I played my end of year traditional song – “To Sir With Love” by Lulu and shared it with Wayne, another teacher who is retiring after 41 years in public education and 19 at our school.
He smiled and seemed to have that faraway look in his eyes while he was listening to it, as if he was remembering different things. He said thank you and quietly walked away. I believe that it was the right thing to share.

I have a feeling that this will be the last time that I play this song for this reason – the end of another school year for me. It was a bit sad and I did tear up a little bit (but no one else saw them).

I guess I am just an old softie – just don’t tell anyone. 🙂

Toughest Year

As a teacher this was probably my toughest year. No the students were not the roughest or hardest group of students that I have had to teach, actually they were one of the easiest (with a couple of exceptions, who were rather challenging). No after my wife’s health issues, I had begun to look at what was actually important in my life and teaching began to more and more take second or third fiddle, instead of its customary first fiddle position during the school year. Teaching and the mountains of paperwork associated with Special Education did not have the same priority as it had in the past.

Did I teach well?

I believe that I did. I attempted to integrate technology into my English classroom and believe that I was successful. We did a lot of reading and some writing. I wish that I could have done better with the writing part, but this year’s classes needed to focus more on their reading skills, so that is what we did. There were several students who I fought tooth and nail with at the start of the year to read, who at the end of the year were asking to read more or where the next book in the series was. I feel comfortable with the progress my class made academically.

Professional Development

The highlight of my year regarding professional development was attending EdCamp Boston. I had a lot fun and met several people who are part of my PLN. I got to ride to Boston with my friend Richard and talk about lots of “stuff” while in his truck. I did attend several training that were put on by Central Maine Inclusive Schools (CMIS), online webinars and participating in #edchat & #spedchats.

Announcing Resignation/Retirement

It was a difficult decision to resign and move to retirement. Leaving a job that I was invited to come back to (and know what is expected of me) for the unknown is scary.  I was supposed to work one more year in our original plan and my wife is picking on me because I didn’t.

Some days though I really thought that I was coming back to teach one more year and other days I knew exactly what I was going to do. It just depended upon the day what happened that day at school and how much work I was doing at home, when I wanted to do something else. I really didn’t make the final decision until Memorial Day weekend, but as the year went on it became more evident what direction I was probably heading in.

I didn’t tell the students until Monday the 13th and the next morning they and my teaching assistant did a surprise retirement party for me, which meant a lot to me (Thank you Donna).

That day I also got another surprise, I was included in the retirement celebration, with the other 3 people in the building, who were retiring from the school after their long service at the school. I had been there only two years and it meant a lot to me to be included in that celebration. To be recognized and have fellow staff members say some nice things about me was “way cool”.  No I didn’t let it go to my head and let my ego get the best of me, but it was nice to hear it. Especially, some of the conversation I have had since that day.

Will I miss teaching?

Probably more than I will admit. I know that I will miss the kids, their “aha” moments, the other staff members that I have gotten to know over the course of the last couple of years and the many supportive parents that I have met over the past couple of years.

What won’t I miss.

Planning lessons, doing research, correcting papers, preparing IEPs, Written Notices, at night or on the weekends instead of spending that time with family or simply doing something else during my personal time.

I will not miss forcing children to take MULTIPLE standardized tests that other required tests already tell us they will fail, it is not right. However, it is the direction that education in the U.S. has been forced by current law and will be going for the foreseeable future with our present administration.  It is so sad and I am glad that I am no longer part of that part of today’s education!

I Want to Say Thank you

  • Donna – for all of your help and support over the last couple of years – we made a great team! You complimented me perfectly, you are strong in the areas I am weak and made you made me look a lot better than I was.
  • Angie – You are da bomb – we made it through some pretty tight situations with a couple of them.
  • Gerry – My partner in crime – you helped me through with sage advice and how to navigate LJHS
  • Mike M – You listened my friend
  • Beth – Your caring when I needed it and our hallway conversations
  • Mike B – The convos on the Red Sox and other Boston teams
  • Andy – Helping me remember what I had forgotten and that I can’t save them all, but that I still have to try
  • Ginger – I will miss our great conversations, how hard you try to help with I/C and how much you care about the kids
  • Dan – I have a feeling you will do well and go far – you give a damn – don’t lose that
  • Robin – Being a friend for a loooooooong time
  • Roberta – For your support and giving me a chance to be a part of LJHS
  • Sean – You were there when I needed you several times this year
  • Jody – Your support, patience and for giving me the chance to come back to my dream job. Especially on my second day on the job – I thank you for what you did and said that day, I will never forget you for that act of kindness
  • There are several more that I could say thank you to and in the interest of space and time, I just want to say it now to the rest of you.

THANK YOU for everything you have done for and with me since October 2009.

I don’t question the choice that I have made – it was the right choice at the right time, for the right reasons.