I love creating blog headlines that connect to either songs, or movies. I also try and connect what I'm writing to the headline. Often, I miss the mark. Or I have to write a paragraph explaining why I chose the movie, or piece of music.
I love the song this post references (Van Morrison in great form), but it also calls back to a post I wrote in December of 2016 where I was shifting away from my middle school field experiences and was going to try my hand in the high school classroom. Four years ago I had just finished doing over 200 hours of field experience and was convinced I was meant to be a teacher in middle school.
I wrote the post in heavy reflection mode and was looking forward to the future. I wrote this -
In a few weeks I’ll be stepping into a high school classroom. I’ll be the rookie, again. Getting to know names. Figuring out the lay of the land. Understanding how the school works. Discovering a new group of students. Missing my old ones. And learning. Lots of learning. My challenge to you is this – how can you be a life long learner? Take a step back and think about your life and/or your career. How are you open to learning new things? Experiencing new perspectives? Willing to give up you precious block or piece of cheese and let someone show you how to use it better? We all need to realize how big the world is, how small we are within it and how we can make the biggest difference in the lives of those we work with, go to school with, spend time with and live with – discovering what we can learn from each other. Here’s to doing a better job of all of that in 2017! From "Into the Mystic" by Aaron DeLay
From four years ago, the wisdom rings very true. Going into secondary alternative education has been an indicator of people's opinion of it. Some are like, "Oh, that's great! You're going to be great for those kids, they're going to love you." While others warn of the perceived dangers, and that there are bad kids there, and man is it going to be tough for you, and it's going to be very hard for you and a challenge and good luck!
I know it's going to be a challenge - but it won't be a challenge because they're 'bad kids" or anything else. It's going to be a challenge because the students in our program metaphorically live and die on the relationships they have with their teachers. We're on a first name basis with them as a start (this will be odd for me for a short time as I get used to it) and we spend more of our time one on one and in groups than we do in front of a classroom. The challenge here is - the students have to trust you. You have to earn their trust, and respect.
New teachers are a unknown variable in the scientific formula of their daily life. The reactions between the new teachers and everything in their world hasn't been tested. They've been hurt by education and educators before in their journey to us - people have mistreated them, and mislabeled them. They're wary of anyone who isn't who they've known for a bit of time and has proven they can be trusted to treat them well, with care, and with love.
I've adopted a saying when it comes to teaching and when people denigrate a particular student population, or place. "Kids are kids," is what I've started to say over and over. They want to be accepted. They want to be acknowledged. They want to be respected. They want to be listened to. They want to contribute to the world around them. They want to be a part of the world in voice, in image, and in sound.
My challenge will be to relate to them, to listen to them, and to find ways for them to add their voices to the community around them to show the world what our kids are capable of and can do. That they are not 'the bad kids'. They're kids with hearts, souls, hopes, dreams, and futures. And they deserve people who will stand beside them and behind them to help guide them there through the good...and the bad.
I'm looking forward to meeting my high school students. I cannot wait to see what they do in our classrooms in our alternative high school. I'll be sharing that journey with you, starting today.
Join me won't you?