First year for teaching is done! I had my last official teacher responsibility tonight. I have to say I feel pretty proud with how this year turned out. I learned a whole lot, struggled a whole lot, but in the end loved it a whole lot more. There were definitely my fair share of days where I wanted to just give up on the school day and go home. But there were far more successes along the way that kept me going. Here are a few of those successes to sum up the year-
I was teaching jump rope and I had a few students that were really struggling getting the rhythm down. I had one in particular that was really having a hard time and I could tell he was embarrassed so he stopped trying. I have a little spot that's more hidden to the rest of the gym and I invited him to practice in there so he could feel more comfortable. I worked one on one with him and had him slow things way down. When he finally got just one successful jump he had the most excited look on his face. I was so excited for him I seriously had tears in my eyes. By the end of the class he was still only able to do one or two jumps in row but he left feeling more confident then he came and it was so inspiring to see his determination.
I had a few students get really emotional and open up to me to tell me their parents were going through a divorce or had recently been divorced. I didn't always know what to say but it made me more determined to make my gym somewhere they can come feel safe and loved. I also worked hard to make it a fun environment to take a break from not only school work but maybe a break from their worries or struggles they carried around with them. I felt I was successful at that anytime a student would feel comfortable opening up to me then left the class smiling.
I have a student who has had some really hard struggles at home with an abuse and neglect. These struggles have influenced some severe behavior problems at school. I had struggles with him pretty much all year. He didn't trust me or necessarily seem to even like me. One class was particularly hard and he spent pretty much the whole class not following directions and ignoring anything I told him. We were playing basketball and he was hanging from a free standing hoop I have. I asked him if he would please get down because I didn't want it to fall and for him to get hurt. He said, "I don't care if I get hurt." Knowing his struggles at home this broke my heart. I quickly and firmly said, "I care. I care if you get hurt because I care about you." I then walked away to help another student and then looked over a minute or two later and he had finally done what I had asked of him at the beginning of class. I learned that showing how much you care can go a long way. From then on the rest of the year he was more inclined to follow directions and we had a much better relationship.
For the last few months of school I implemented a incentive program to help encourage my students to be good sports. They had the opportunity to earn points for anything they did that showed me they were trying their best to be good sports. The winning class got to have BYU Soccer players come and play soccer with them at school and we went to a soccer game and had front row seats! It was just a fun thing and I feel like it really made a difference in how the students treated each other. There were less arguments and tears and more fun.
When students asked if I was coming back next year and they heard I was they said, "YES!" with a fist pump involved sometimes. I even received similar responses from some teachers! That is a success for sure.
I'm grateful to have a year of teaching under my belt. I feel more confident moving forward. Still have a lot to learn but I feel proud of the year I have accomplished. I'm excited to keep learning and improving next year. But first, SUMMER. Cruise here I come!