By Carly Mitchell / New York City
(The author, a public-school teacher, is using a pseudonym for professional reasons)
June is here and teachers throughout New York City (or at least the honest ones), are breathing a sigh of relief and preparing themselves for that sweet, sweet, six-letter word: SUMMER.
This year has been a doozy as both students and teachers have learned to reacclimate to the ‘normal’ school routine (aka being in a classroom instead on a Zoom screen). For me, as a seventh-grade English teacher, this school year has had its ups, its downs, and its in-betweens. So, I figured it might be fun to take a moment to reflect upon my own performance during the past 10 months. What better way than to give myself a report card? It’s only fair.
Here goes nothing!
Preparedness and Organization: B+
You figure out pretty quickly as a teacher that you should be prepared for anything. And that means anything. Whether this means an extra assignment for the student who finishes five minutes into the task that is supposed to take at least 30 minutes (there’s always one!), an explanation for an odd question (there are always many), or an observation from an administrator the day before a break (when behavior is typically the most outlandish), you know you must be ready for whatever comes your way.
I give myself a B+ because while I feel I am usually pretty prepared in terms of my lessons and planning, I do think I could be just a tad more organized. Let’s just say I have found myself in what I refer to as a ‘grading crisis’ on more than one occasion. Emphasis on the word crisis.
Ahh. Patience. A tricky concept that comes easily some days, but not so easily on others. I almost gave myself a B in this department, but then I thought about the number of times today I repeated the same directions (over and over and over and over– you get the point) and pretty much every other day of the year. If I can extend grace to my students on a daily basis, I can do the same for myself. So B+ it is.
I can teach a lesson on figurative language to a class of squirming seventh graders, write a pass to the nurse’s office for a student who has fallen out of his chair, respond to an email from my principal AND sip my coffee all at the same time. Okay, maybe not the coffee part, but everything else still goes.
Fostering Student Relationships: A
It’s simple: if you want to have a successful year, you must have a good rapport with your students. If you want a hellish year, then do the opposite. But who wants that? We teach because we love kids, so relationship building and maintaining an environment of understanding and mutual respect is imperative. Now this is not to say that everything is always sunshine and daisies. I have had my fair share of “get outside and wait for me in the hallway!” moments, but at the end of the day we forgive one another and move on. Like I always say to my students, the outside world is hard enough, so let’s try our best to get along and support one another while we are in school. Corny? Yes. But true? Also, yes!
Fostering Co-worker/Administration Relationships: A
This job is tough enough. You should be able to rely on your co-workers and your administration for support and of course share a few laughs along the way. I am fortunate to work with some of the finest teachers I have ever met, and for this I am perpetually grateful.
Classroom Decor: B
Yes, I have fantastic student work hanging on my wall. Yes, currently their ekphrastic poems (poetry inspired by art) are displayed. And yes,there are inspirational posters tacked to my bulletin boards. But remember that grading crisis business I mentioned earlier? Yeah, sometimes those piles of paper get in the way of the feng shui.
Current Energy Level: C
Ok, if this were my first quarter report card (the first three months of the year) I would be a little kinder to myself. But it’s June and if I am going to be totally transparent, there is not enough coffee in the world to keep my energy levels up at this point. Cheers, anyone?
There you have it, folks: my final report card for the 2021-2022 school year. Admittedly, it is fairly subjective. Perhaps I should ask my students to take a look?
On second thought, maybe that’s not the best idea…
Carly Mitchell (a pseudonym) is a public-school teacher in Brooklyn N.Y. who loves to learn, to educate, and to expose the hypocrisy of New York City politicians.