23 June 2014

things to remember

right now i am sitting in my empty classroom. it's clear out day, and i still can't believe it's all over...it has felt surreal all weekend. i knew taking on this job would be difficult, and i also knew somewhere in my heart that it would be deeply rewarding, but i could not have realized in my wildest imaginations how intensely challenging and incredibly enriching this adventure has been. three and a half months ago i was praying so hard that they would find someone else to fill the role, and today i am praying with so much gratitude that i was the one to fill it. it's funny how life works like that.



this whole experience feels like the epitome of one of my life's mantras - hard is good. i said those three little words to my students every single day, and told them in my graduation speech that that is the most important thing i want them to remember me teaching them. every challenge is an opportunity -- cherish the chances you have to do hard things.

there are plenty of things i won't miss about this experience (endless stacks of grading, extremely early mornings, feeling like i was going to pass out in front of 38 students because of all the chaos, feeling like i had been a jerk in my efforts to discipline students, a vast lack of life outside of work, disrespect and attitude, nights spent dreaming about teaching and therefore not really sleeping at all, etc etc). but it feels like there are so many more things that i really will miss, and never want to forget. some of those include:

  • every morning, as the students entered the classroom, i would shake their hands one by one. i just loved looking in their eyes and seeing their light and trying to start each day with a big smile, no matter what. one student and i had a super cool handshake that evolved over the months that we would do when he came to the front of the line each morning. the final version included some sweet dance moves at the end. 
  • the students were absolutely fascinated with my personal life. i got sooo much questioning and teasing about my dating life (especially when flowers were delivered to me in the middle of class!) and i loved telling kids about my family (they were all super concerned about my niece shelby and her special heart) and about my experiences in the past (i did several lessons about my international travel and the things i learned meeting people all over the world). one of my favourite memories is when we played "two truths and a lie" as a class. mine were 1) i have met barak obama, 2) i have 25 nieces and nephews, and 3) i have kissed a stranger. when i told them #2 was the lie (i have 26), they flipped out, and they were absolutely spellbound as i told them my kissing a stranger story. 
  • our animal farm discussions were fantastic. we'd get in a big circle and share insights and questions. i was always so impressed with my students' observations and connections. i got really into the satire and the allegory and they were amused by how much i loved re-reading the book. they started telling me that they were emotionally affected by what happened, that they were telling other people in their communities about the russian revolution, and that they were noticing themes of the book in their everyday lives. 
  • on the second to last day of school, we had a school wide tournament playing what our pe coach calls "the game." it's kind of a fusion of capture the flag and dodgeball. i was designated team captain, even though i'd never played before and didn't know the rules. we got all riled up in our classroom before the tournament began. students taught me how to play, and came up with clever strategies, and decked themselves out in face paint and red duct tape. i'm just gonna cut to the chase here - we won the whole dang thing! it was pretty awesome. the students took me right in as a teammate. i loved cheering for the other classes, hiding and running and searching and executing plans with the other captains, and celebrating our victory. sidenote: one student ripped his pants while playing and duct taped them back together in the classroom and we had such a giggle attack about it that there were tears streaming down my face. 
  • when both the student and i could tell that something just totally clicked during math - that's the best! math was incredibly hard to teach because of the variance of skill that i had in one class...i'd say i had students at a 4th grade level and students at a 10th grade level. but i think almost everyone had a moment when it just made sense, and that "ooooooohhhhhh" is pretty awesome.
  • one thing i'm sure i taught my students and it stuck was to stop using double negatives. i was very vigilant in correcting their speech after our original lesson, and pretty soon they were correcting each other, and telling me that they heard double negatives in rap songs and "it just sounded so uneducated" and informing me that they were teaching their parents and siblings. 
  • each morning, we'd have "shareouts" to talk about how we were feeling that day. we have a color scale to check in: red is angry/upset/sad, purple is almost red, yellow is in the middle, blue is almost green and green is happy/excited/positive. students would tell their color and why, and i learned a lot about their lives and their challenges at home. sometimes we'd do special shareouts to talk about goals, gratitude, favourite things, memories, things to look forward to, etc. 
  • unfortunately, sometimes i ran out of patience and lost my cool a little in class. students could always see it coming, because my skin turns really red when i get frustrated or upset or anxious. looking back, i just kind of loved how they teased me for turning red and we joked about it together. one time i reached the end of my rope in the last five minutes of class and somehow my "yell" came out kind of singsongy, and we all lost it giggling. 
  • three days a week after school, students with more than one f were required to stay for an hour to get work done and get extra help. so, all the most challenging kids in the room at once needing lots of motivation and attention. those were sure some crazy hours. but mostly all of those students improved their grades dramatically over the last month of school. it was so fun to hand out progress reports and see students celebrate their improvements. i was a pretty strict grader, and students learned early on that i wouldn't give them credit for something they didn't do or didn't do well. i think this totally changed the way that some of them thought about school and work in general. 
  • one of my favourite things about my school is that we have an "advisory" curriculum meant to teach kids social and emotional skills. we had some really good lessons talking about dealing with emotions, relationships, challenges, and changes. i was really impressed with the maturity of some students' contributions to those discussions. i was also amazed with how the class supported each other and treated each other like family. several students mentioned in the last few days of school that our class was more of a family to them than any other relationships in their lives. 
  • i loved seeing many of my students' curiosity come out, especially during history lessons. they would ask such awesome questions. when we were studying the mexican-american war, they brought insights that i'd never have thought of, and we had a big discussion about how different perspectives and biases affect history. i loved teaching us history. 
  • i had some students that needed serious attitude adjustments and needed to learn to treat others with respect. although my interactions with those students were often very hard and frustrating, they were sometimes very productive and touching. i could feel when my care was felt by the students, and that is such an incredible feeling. 
  • in our final assembly on friday, students stood up and offered teacher appreciations. the student representing my class said, "ms. eyre built with all of a us not only a great teacher-student relationship, but also a great friendship relationship. she really cares about us as people." (this was my most articulate student - our valedictorian - speaking, mind you.) i couldn't think of any better praise. 

some student appreciation excerpts:
-you are one of the best and coolest teachers i have ever had.
-thank you for never giving up on me when i didn't get math.
-i will miss you very much. wish you the best with your boyfriend. follow me on instagram.
-you have so many patience with us.
-you've taken your time to help me learn and thanks for everything ms. eyre i will truly miss you.
-you work so hard to teach us. you're like my parents because they work a lot so i can have a good life.
-you taught me good things #bestteacherever
-you were brave to be our teacher.







man, it has sure been good to think about other things besides teaching the past couple of days. on saturday i just stayed in my pajamas and made pancakes and laid around. it was pretty awesome. but wow, i am really going to miss this, and hope i will always remember.

4 comments :

  1. is that a new boyfriend i hear of? wishing you the best charity, give us an update on that!
    Love the fact that you turned what was originally a hardship into something so beneficial all because of your attitude towards it. We can all learn from that!

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  2. Will you be returning to that school in the fall?

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  3. I have never commented before but I have followed your blog for a long time! As a former teacher i just want to say you are an inspiration. Your students will remember you forever and you will be glad you recorded these amazing experiences with your students. I dont know you or your students but I'm so grateful you persevered even when it got really hard, I wish more teachers, students, and people in General had that attitude. We are a lot like your students, fascinated with your dating life, we are all rooting for you Charity! Please tell us more ��❤️

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  4. Hope you're enjoy the school holidays & having a break, including getting to sleep in:)

    Have a lovely holiday at Bear Lake etc, you've certainly earnt it.


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