Sometimes one has to admit that life’s glass is half-full not half-empty.
This week I was asked to participate in a promotional video for Hoover High School. I reluctantly agreed to do it, reluctant because for years I have been an outspoken critic of my own profession.
Playing the cheerleader role is not typecasting for me.
However, the more I thought about being on camera to talk about the place where I have worked since 1989, the more I realized how proud I would be to talk about what makes my job meaningful.
When I first became a teacher, I never thought I would be in the classroom this long. After doing computer work for 12 years, I figured I would teach for about 10 years, then go on to do something else. I assumed that was going to be my life’s pattern—changing careers every decade. Never did it cross my mind that I would devote the bulk of my adult life working with children.
In the blink of an eye, here I am, one of the oldest teachers on campus, not knowing what happened to the past 30 years.
I did not recognize it much back then, but as I approach the sunset of my career, I can see how blessed I have been to work with young people and have the opportunity to help them in their life’s journey.
To prepare for the video interview, I was given a couple of questions to think about.
“If you were a parent of a student, why would you be excited to send your child to Hoover?”
For the non-academic classes.
While there’s nothing wrong with our English, math or science classes, taking marching band, culinary arts or journalism enriches the day for students where instead of sitting in a chair passively, they have the opportunity to do, to get involved, to make learning come alive through playing an alto saxophone, baking a bundt cake or posting a video to Instagram called Humans of Hoover
In my journalism class, I give students the responsibility of running a business. They create the work, manage the work, publish the work. They teach each other desktop publishing and editing programs that enable them to do their jobs. Such independence reveals what matters most to them and their peers.
Being self-reliant is something all parents desire, and being self-learning is something all teachers desire—both happen at Hoover.
“What do you love most about coming to school every day to teach these students?”
In short, not knowing what questions or comments students will have. Some may view such unknown variables as nerve-wracking; I find them stimulating.
There is a duality to teaching: spending hours developing lesson plans timed to the minute, but being prepared for the spontaneous reaction of students.
You never know what provocative question or profound connection a student may formulate.
Then there is the student work—the writing, the speech, the video—that reveals their thinking and learning.
Yes, some students fall short demonstrating their knowledge, but many succeed. Especially gratifying are the non-A students who hit a home run once in a while.
Just the other day, a boy who has struggled most of the year gave a moving speech, better than everyone else in the class. I was so proud of him knowing that he was the same young man who had tears in his eyes last semester when he botched his first oral.
Doing this interview gave me pause to reflect. When you work day after day, year after year, you lose track of the big picture. Stepping back to look at the large mosaic built over time is quite illuminating.
Once in a while it is okay to view life’s glass as half-full; in fact, right now, the cup runneth over.