Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On Teaching.

Today marks my last day with students in the classroom. I've resisted the impending last-day nostalgia so far, though I suspect in a month or two it will creep in and I'll spend four days in continuous cringing at memories of lame jokes and accidental culturally insensitive remarks. But, there will be far more to be proud of.

Starting a new job on Monday feels like I'm getting divorced on Friday and remarried to an entirely new woman next week. I'll have the weekend to process and grieve. Really though, she's not new. She's who I've known and thought about for the past few years, it's a comfortable fit, though I'm still a little nervous; I wonder if our hands will still fit together the same way.

Teaching, for me, has transcended traditional connotation of "employment." It's been a vacation from the social expectations of "job." I can say without hesitation that there hasn't been a day I've dreaded coming in.

To be sure, I probably haven't been a real teacher, something more of an observer getting paid and treated like a real teacher. I'm much more interested in conversation and inspiration than curriculum and grading. Probably not the stuff of real teachers.

I think I've cheated the system. I know honestly that I've learned more than I've taught. When I think about it, most of the past two years flashes before me like a movie-montage set to bad (Read: Awesome) 80's music. I'm going to work on capturing as many memories as possible before they're stolen by time and coming priorities.

Some of the most profound realizations:

They're smarter than me. Any teacher would be amiss to think that students are the only ones learning. I learn from 150+ people a day. Each student has a story. Some good, some bad but these stories are, for the most part, true. To not learn from that would be an exponential waste of time.

They Remember. I remember halfway through last year, a student repeated a phrase I used on the first day of school. That moment changed me. He never knew the impact, after all, he was just being a good student, but it was defining for me. God used that moment in ways neither I nor that student can fully understand. Our words matter.

Teaching is hard. Teaching is freaking hard. Teaching is seriously hard. But it's big and it's good and it's worth it. I honestly feel that after this, I'll be fine anywhere.

These memories are mine. They're my story now. I've been in excellent company for the past two years, and it's tough to put words to exactly how undeserving I am, so I'll be quiet and thankful.