Two-hundred fifty-nine thousand, two hundred minutes. That’s one way to measure the year in the life of a teacher. Not as catchy as the tune from Rent and, as suggested by Rent, not necessarily the best way to measure a year. 180 days are over for some and nearing the end for others. How do you measure your season of teaching?
I like to set goals for myself every year. Something new in addition to the formal goals in my teacher evaluation that I want to accomplish. I am rounding out my twelfth year of teaching (three million, one-hundred ten thousand, four hundred minutes) and every year I add to my teaching repertoire. I have learned more about teaching math developmentally as well as better strategies to help students with emotional challenges. I’ve learned to teach the history of three different cities in two different states. I have learned to be more culturally aware of different populations because my students have come from over 20 different backgrounds. I have learned how to let students take over their own learning, their own assessments, their own conferences and fixing their own problems. This year, I tried to learn more about the 5 and 6-year old brain. I set out to get a better understanding of the zone of proximal development for a whole new grade and age.
Besides my goals, how else could I measure my year? I would say around 400 fix-it conversations. Approximately 200 pencils. I can estimate somewhere between 50 and 60 glue sticks. 15 boxes of tissues. Hundreds of bags of goldfish crackers. We’ve read about 150 books, quite possibly more. I’ve gone through over 100 band-aids, some of which actually covered cuts that were actually bleeding. Thousands of pieces of paper, both new and recycled, that were turned into cards and computers and cell phones and crowns and bracelets and kingdoms and stories. We almost made it to the end of the year without breaking our artist manikin. Almost.
That’s not all. Twenty 5-year olds entered my class. Most couldn’t read, write, or count beyond 10 on the first day. Many didn’t even know the names of the letters of the alphabet. Last week, they presented their learning about bees, flowers, and our call to save the bees from colony collapse. Not only did they write their observations of bees, flowers, honeycomb, and more, they also read what they wrote to their families. They read a poem about bees. They read a letter they wrote to our local representative about what she could do to help save the bees. They read posters they created to encourage others to save bees. They read with pleasure and they read for a purpose. They wrote for pleasure and they wrote for a purpose. They counted wildflower seeds and planted them. These students, now almost all 6-years old have grown in both measurable and immeasurable ways.
So, what’s in store for next year? Well, I’m hoping to catch a few who are struggling with the alphabet a little earlier. I now know that I was supposed to start teaching them to count to 100 waaayyy earlier. Sorry 1st grade teachers! I am determined we will close caps on glue sticks a lot better next year. I want to know more about how their brains work and I still need to work on getting that zone of proximal development down. Next year I will have a whole new two-hundred fifty-nine thousand, two hundred minutes to try.
Cheers teachers, to all your minutes, hours, words read, and love spread. We did it, again.