The funny thing about being a teacher is that you never do quite know what to expect. Daily life in the classroom changes by the hour, and while there’s always a routine, there’s 50 million little things that can change each day to vary it up. Life is never boring. I’ll give you that.
The biggest change though happens year to year. At the beginning of each year we get given our new class, and you never really do know what to expect. Last year was my first year teaching and I had the dream class. They were inspired, bright, engaged students, about 85% of whom had so much leadership potential it’s a wonder the class didn’t explode from it sometimes. Of course they were also extremely talkative. As a class they loved maths but weren’t big fans of the creative and performing arts.
This year my class is quite different, and sometimes it can be hard not to compare the two. This year my class are less confident and less secure in their learning, but they are so determined. They love creative projects and being able to choose their own path. The want freedom and they love books. They are the dreamers and the supporters rather than the leaders, and they’re much more relaxed and reflective kids.
We do a lot of standardised testing at the end of the year to check progress, and it’s been interesting to see their results come back. Last year I had outstanding academic results from my students. This year the results have been about the small victories. The student who gained an extra 10 marks. The student who went from really-really-behind to nowhere-near-as-behind.
And while I look at the results and see that the improvements are smaller than past years, I have to remind myself that school is about so much more than the marks. I have to remind myself how my class who haven’t won a single game all year in the inter-class sports competition finally found their groove to win the very last game of the year today. And the girl who told me that she should just give up on maths because it was too hard at the beginning of the year, actually sat down with me and talked about her future goals for maths just yesterday. And how there are so many students in my class who love to dance and are really good at it. How a student who spent the first half of the year utterly disengaged in writing did an awesome job in his mock job interview today. How beautiful the art that some of my students produce is.
And then I remember that sometimes school is about the slow crawl, it’s about making the other things happen. The confidence. The engagement. The interest. The willingness. Then learning can happen.
And it has. But there’s a lot of learning that can go on outside of tests.
So in a world where marks and achievements rule, I’m going to focus on the small things today and call this year a success.