“You did the thing!”

June 16, 2014

This was my second year teaching, it’s also my second class of graduating seniors. As a senior English Teacher I have a really unique opportunity to reach these kids in their final year in school and try my best to get them prepared for the sometimes cruel transition to the real world.

I do my best to not only teach them how freaking cool Frankenstein is (and that Frankenstein is the scientist not the monster) but to also teach them basic life skills like how to pay bills, how to budget, how to milk a scholarship application, how to treat people with respect and successfully deal with ‘adults’, the realities of prejudice in America, and other things. I try to write about those things here sometimes but i’m working on doing that more next year. 

I think i’ve got a long way to go as a teacher, but i’m pretty happy just looking back at these past two years and realizing how much i’ve improved already. Each year I get more specific about my needs and my student’s needs for next year and I do what I can to implement necessary changes.

This year I got better at establishing routine. Every day, every class always ended with “Have a good day! Be safe!”. This routine was easy to get into because i’ve always been one who needs to say the same thing over just like my childhood bedtime routine “Good night, sweet dreams, see you in the morning!” It was especially important to me to do this because as a kid that’s what made me feel safe, always hearing that, always knowing that ending was there, always the same thing no matter what. I always felt really uncomfortable on nights I couldn’t tell me mom that before bed and I definitely didn’t sleep as soundly.

It was really reinforced for me this year that my kids felt the same way because any time I would get caught up in something else at the end of class one of my students would always say it to me to remind me. It was nice, it reaffirmed that they heard it and they cared that it was there. They cared that I wished them well and I wished them safety. 

They were also quick to point out that they ‘Did the thing!’ ANY time I had my kids do anything in class like put up their phones in the shoe organizer (definitely something i’m doing EVERY DAY next year, cellphones will be the death of me), or turned in all of their papers, or all correctly responded to a quiz question. No matter what, if I asked them to do something and they accomplished it I always affirmed “Yay! You did the thing!” and boy oh boy did they remind me. I’d absent mindedly forget to congratulate them for putting up their phones and sure enough someone would go “We did the thing!” and then wait for me to respond. They were unsettled any time I forgot and were quick to make sure it happened. Even today as we practiced graduation many of my kids were telling me “We did the thing! We’re going to graduate!” They’re really small words of affirmation, but they’re still words of affirmation. Tiny approval that they craved and approval that kept them on track. 

It makes me hopeful and happy that maybe this is something they’ll carry with them. It sounds silly but those small routines were so important to me as a child and continue to be important to me as an adult. As someone who has lived with anxiety their whole life it’s something I know is vital to success and routines are definitely something i’m looking to implement more in the next year. 

I’m proud of the routines I established this year and i’m hopeful that I can continue implementing strong routines that create a safe and comfortable learning environment. I want to continue creating a classroom where students know what to expect every day so that they’re comfortable enough to push their mental limits, comfortable enough to mess up, and comfortable enough to speak out.

I think i’m getting there slowly but surely and I really can’t wait to see what happens next year.

Until next time,
Meagan

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