Three days to go and the class of 2009 will be on their way, with their younger classmates moving onward and upward. Throughout the year, I’ve been taught various lessons — or had various epiphanies, depending on how you want to see it — including:

  • If you want a student to stay awake in class, feed him (and you find out that something simple like granola bars or fruit snacks go a long way)
  • Some kids don’t eat from lunch to lunch, so that package of fruit snacks is most welcome
  • Quoting “The Simpsons” impresses the fine youth, and one class gets jealous (and they let you know) when they have not been the recipients of said quotes when another class has
  • Students are impressed when you give them an inexpensive, personalized gift that shows them you’ve paid attention and know them more than you let on
  • The younger kids are thrilled to get a pad of paper, a pencil, and a sucker because, wow! It’s a present for us!
  • You don’t always have to use your allotted funds for paper and pencils (see 1 and 2 above)
  • When you have the choice between getting angry and yelling or laughing at someone’s suddenly bizarre, non-dangerous behavior, laugh — it makes you all much happier
  • “Dorks,” “Weirdos,” and “Punks,” are safe endearments/exclamations of disbelief — and the kids get to giggle at you (and rightly so) because you use the word “dork”
  • Show interest in their music, reading choices, or other activities — because you care about them and this helps them see that, and you just might discover some new music or books that you like because they share their favorites with you
  • Some kids will do anything for those ten points of extra credit (even though the 20 point assignment wasn’t that hard or time consuming to begin with), so take advantage of their willingness (clean boards, clean floors, straighten rows of desks, etc.)
  • Document everything. Because sometimes the incident you were doing everything to prevent is the very incident that will actually get administrators to act — and you have all of the documentation to prove you had appropriately followed protocol and it is now their turn to respond
  • Have a fellow teacher sit in on meetings with administrators regarding above-mentioned incidents — they help you keep your head and can prove you handled yourself professionally
  • You can be professional and still have fun with your students
  • Be good to the fine ladies in the library and copy center — they help you to no end
  • Ditto to the counselors
  • And the office staff
  • Secretaries (in any of our many office departments) really do know most everything, and all you have to do is ask
  • If you’re impressed with a student, let their parent know — both the parent and child like it
  • Parents like knowing what’s going on, and the positive messages are a nice relief from the negative ones
  • Be the first one to say hello — eventually even those who have avoided eye contact for a while will once again start replying and calling you by name
  • Greet your students by name in the hall ALWAYS — it shocks them at first, but then they like it and start talking to you
  • High school behavior that occurred when you were in high school just keeps getting passed down through the generations (“I wonder what it would be like to snort this flavored drink mix?” Groan “Pay no attention to what is going on in that corner, kids.” Friend of said “wonderer,” “You guys are [dumbbells].” Don’t we ever learn?)
  • Go to the assemblies — watch your kids have fun on stage and off, and you, too, can get “psyched”
  • Get your own yearbook and have your students sign it— not only will you have a nice souvenir, but you’ll also get inspiring comments from your fine students such as: “You are my favorite teacher!” “I love your class!” “You are the best teacher I have EVER had!” “I appreciate all your help.” “You stayed very calm even though our class was crazy.” “You are a very tolerant teacher.” “You are a great teacher.” “You made things fun and interesting and not boring!” “You put up with me when others wouldn’t.” “Thank you for your help.” 

And that’s why they — and we — keep coming back. Because we love, thrive on, and live for the fun, crazy insanity!

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