Sunday, May 22, 2011

Influencing Eternity

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell, where his influence stops.”
— Henry Brooks Adams(American writer, 1838-1918)

This quote speaks a lot about my philosophy of teaching and life. As the school year winds down and students leave my classroom. Some I will see again in other capacities and some I won't ever have a conversation with again. However, I have to believe that I was able to be a part of a moment in their life and that something I did or something that we learned in class effected their eternity.

That's why I try to tell them that I care about them everyday. That's why I try to only speak positive words and don't allow name calling, put downs or negative words in my classroom. (I try, don't always succeed, but try.) That's why I stand on my soapbox some days to give them words of wisdom and passionately tell them why good decisions are future making decisions. That's why I share examples from my own life and others' lives.

That's why I am a teacher, because I never know how influence or shape their eternity or your eternity or anyone that interacts with a former student of mine. I know that what I do matters, and I won't always be able to see it, nor hear about it, or know about it. BUT I know it matters and in some way I have influenced and changed these students' futures.

I am only in my 2nd year of teaching, but I am excited to see what my students do in the future, because every little bit I can see hints of greatness in them, showing me that they are capable of it and if they so choose they can be great, they just have to believe it.

So think about it, how do you want to affect eternity? Why do you teach?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What if we did this all year?

The last couple of weeks of school I believe are the hardest of the year. The students are ready to be finished which makes it harder for the teachers. The teachers are ready for summer, which makes it hard for the teachers. We still have things to teach, but the students cannot sit still and don't have the patience for long lessons or big assignments. So what do we do?

What I did this year, which will probably come back to haunt me over these last 9 days of school, is give them a hands on project to work on. We are spending at least 5 class days working on a end of unit project. It involves drawing, writing, creativity, and most of all a different pace during class.

This last week, I watched a lot of them get excited about what they were doing, they loved being able to be hands on and show what they know in a different way other than on a worksheet. Of course, there were some of them that just wanted to finish as quickly as possible and make my life miserable over the next couple of days because they believe that their small effort was going to be worthy of an A. (I stipulated that if it didn't contain some sort of color, I would be putting an A on it.) But you know what, sometimes I have to think about the students that this means the world to because they have put up with me all year, making them write and read without the least bit of a chance to do a project such as this.

Something I realize as I watch this students complete this assignment is that, I need to do a better job of having more assignments like this. They love being hands on, and unfortunately in Language Arts, we spend a lot of time reading, writing or talking, not a lot of time creating. I am challenging myself to come up with more ways to have them create things next year.

(Over the summer, I will write a post of all the challenges I make to myself for next year.)

What sort of hands on projects do you have your students do?