woensdag 30 juni 2010
One moment in time
SUMMER HOLIDAY!!!!! I have been dancing in my kitchen, yelling out loud and screaming!!! Not have been doing that for quite some time and it felt so great. It took a last hectic week full of emotions and many goodbyes!
When I handed over today my last report card of the year (and it was a very nice one!! Not that many happy faces this year! The 'Mean'-teacher was busy this year!) it felt like I lost a stone. Suddenly I could breath more easily. Guess that I needed this two month break badly!
I will be in and out but for 2 months. I will be nobody's teacher and that feels quite relaxing. It was tough this year. It was the first year ever that the majority of my Juniors got not a straight forward report card. Three of them I will for sure see back in Junior classes, one moves on but only on strict conditions, one we asked very politely to find an other school after getting many chances and one will be on work placement a bit longer to make the grades.
Do I feel failed as a teacher? Nope, I don't. Not that it is much fun to communicate such messages to the parents and the pupils. Like mentioned before in some old posts I do consider parent's evening quite tiring. Some parents can take you by surprise. There are the courageous ones who have prepared even a complete monologue to get their message across. So I had to be fired up before going into battle with a folder filled up with decisive figures.
While sitting out there ready to face 'the enemy' I do reflect about the last ten months. My sophomores were great this year. We had tons of laughs. They will remember me as 'Teacher Stamp' (I truely signed one day a pupil's diary that way!) because I was thinking of the rewarding system. They also told me more then ones that when I go mental (pulling faces, banging my head against the door, wall or black board when they do or say something outrageously!) that they do understand what I try to tell them. And the best of all we will meet again!!
But this year I did experience that my Juniors did have a hard time to face the consequences of the choices they made. Being a general subject teacher in a special ed school I end up being the one who tries to tell them what the harsh facts of life are. Some of them feel like they are ready to deal with all what is heading their way and that they can do without school at the age of 16!
Juniors are an unique kind of pupils to deal with. For more then 12 years this is the grade that I teach in combo with some other grades. But most hours I end up with them between four walls. Not many are strangers when they start out with me. But when I stare in their eyes in the beginning of the school year I can sense certain powers. Some of them are still of unaware of those sensations. I am the one knowing that they will colide many times. Not only with me but with so many things, places and people they will be meeting along the way.
I had the pleasure to have some of these pupils that you raced through their Junior year. Never hesistated, gave never a blink and were proud to stand out. Believed in their own powers and talents. These were the ones who only needed only a push once in while. Grading their tasks and papers was a walk through the parc. Seeing those leaving seemed so natural.
Unfortunately there are also the ones who turn school into they biggest boxing ring ever. Being of the weak sex I try to stay out of fights but as a teacher I have a been reckless a few times. I never got hurt but where I was standing I saw two people who got hurt. Not only physical but also very emotional.
And so there also the ones who give up. Once they have made that decision that they will move on and never look back over their shoulder there is not much you can do as a teacher. To be honest it still hurts when it happens and I do feel a bit failed as a teacher. Not that it is entire my fault but still it stings.
This year I had to fail many and I do know that there a chances that some won't return in September. You might wonder if I have high standards? Do I ask the impossible? Do they have to be straight A students to make me smile? Or are they never allowed to make mistakes? Nope! Failing in my class room you can only when you have not tried out new things, pushed yourself not to the edge once in a while or have ignored some wake up calls.
Last week I told many that they had not delivered! I did not blink once while pointing out their failure. When I sit out there facing the 'enemy' I do feel sometimes tired. When browsing through their report cards and wrapping up the last details I seem to feel the weight of 10 months in my hands.
I have been begging some to stay and not answer the call of the out side world. Please giving it an other try, using what they not used enough the last year: endurance! Does my advice make the difference? I don't know and I will never find out. It is a sign when some don't make eyecontact and seem already to be in a different place. All what they seem eager to do is take a run and slam the door.
What I never do is making bets on these kids. It is not fair on them. Because in the end it is their life. They call the shots. The only thing that I do is telling them that do have the power to make it work. That they can do so much more! But they have to fight and try harder then are doing now.
The highlight of the year was graduation for me because amongst the seniors there is one girl who I never thaught but still ended up having fierce arguments with. She kicked, used harsh words and wanted to walk out. And was she smart? D was to me of these rare kids you do encounter only rarely out there: a true diamond in the rock. While standing out side in the hall ways with her I told her more then once in a very controlled way that she had the will and power to get more out of this ride. I had faith in her ability to show the outside world that special ed is not the end of the waterfall.
When her name was announced at graduation and she was standing up to get her diploma I saw so much more then the angry teenager I had met so many times. There was standig a very proud young lady dressed in a little black dress and high heels! She was walking up there confident and looked everyone straight in the eyes. While showing us her most beautiful smile her face was so radiant.
The hand of applause she got was very sincere and warm. D will go into my teaching career as the one student who dares to embrace the unknown after being told many times that she had to try harder when she seemed not to care. D did not stop questioning herself and I do truely hope that she will find the power, the will, the endurance to make it!
It only got better when our principal announced that D was going give it a try in a 'normal' education. She is going to push herself and taking the risk. My heart jumped for joy! Because the vision I had for her while argueing with her turned into a reality. To me she is a true hero. Because she dares facing her real fears next year, she will be ending up younger teenagers in a room, less streetwise kids and will be meeting tons of people that will be testing her every day over and over. BUT I do think she is up for that ultimate adventure.
I did not say goodbye to D because as known by many I am the first to get back into the kitchen to do the washing up. In my head D already moved on but at least she dares to move on to that one spot that many have told her to be out of reach. But she took her time and was patient enough to wait for the right moment to go for it.
There is one song that I will now link to D:'One moment in time!' Whitney Houston is not able to sing as nicely as she used but the lyrics are so fitting for D and all those Seniors of the class of 2010 who are ready to face the future. As a teacher I can only state that it was a true honor teaching the brave ones. After all I have got the questions but being the pupils you are the ones holding the answers to the real things that matter in life. There is not a single grade fitting enough to mark those answers because they are unique for each of you!!