When Summer Came Too Soon...

As the school year races to the close, I have reached another milestone in my career by finishing my second year of teaching. With BTSA completed and my tenure gained, I can now smile at the memory of walking down the halls of Woodlake High School in 2013 and realizing that I would be a "real" teacher. Yet with another milestone gained, I can't help but feel a sense of incompleteness. I'm not sure where this feeling is coming from; last year, I eagerly waited for summer to arrive, but this year I'm wishing I had more time.

It may be coming from my recent experiments within my classroom. In the past, I have done versions of project based learning, but I recently embraced student choice and did my first 'official' PBLs. I'm still waiting on my students' completion of the most recent project, but overall I have felt a greater sense of satisfaction and happiness watching my students on their own, rather than my direct instruction. As a result, I've decided that this is definitely the way my classroom should function and I regret not realizing this sooner.

Or maybe it could also be because of the recent advancements in technology and my inability to use this technology. Unfortunately, my district's WiFi was not prepared for the amount of new Chromebooks added to all the school sites. This meant that during SBAC testing we could not use technology in order to preserve bandwidth. Naturally during these eight days, Pear Deck added new features to their app, including a timer and ability to access web pages. I hoped to be able to try out these features before the end of the year, but then finals crept up on me and suddenly I had no time.

At the same time, the incompleteness could be due to the fact that my very first group of students are now becoming seniors. For the past two years, I have watched them grow from goofy sophomores to more sarcastic juniors. Now, they will be seniors and be with the economics/government teacher instead of my classroom. I can't help but feel sad and as though I haven't taught them everything they will need for the future.

Despite  these feelings, I'm also incredibly proud of the progress both my students and I have made this past year:
  • After going 1:1 during summer school last year, I was able to integrate technology fully within my normal classes with the support of school administers. As a result, my students are significantly more tech competent than they were at the start of the year; in fact, I hear many of them helping other students and teachers around campus with technology. 
  • Even though I didn't fully embrace PBL until the end of the school year, I feel that I challenged by students with more critical thinking and analyzing than I did the year before. Now I see them questioning everything around them, arguing about different perspectives, and looking up information on their own. 
  • Finally, I'm happy that I got to be a role model for my students and let them witness me try new things and not let failure hold me back. I was given fantastic opportunities this year to present at various edtech conferences, despite my fears of failure, and my students also got to witness me problem solve multiple failures, like when my projector broke or when the Chromebooks failed to charge over night.
All in all, I would consider this year to be a success and I'm eager to get back to school to fulfill this feeling of incompleteness. Good thing I'm teaching summer school :)

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