Today was the last day of classes of my seventh year of teaching.
Yeah, I know, I can't believe it either. But, hell, if I hadn't taken two years off, it would've been the end of my ninth year. I think having the break in the middle really helped me relax and refocus, and approach the gig more like... well, me.
I've had friends ask me what I'm like in the classroom, with the kids. I usually tell them that I'm pretty much the same guy I am when I'm outside it, minus the profanity. If you're anything less than 100% genuine with teenagers, you'd better believe they'll know it: suddenly you're not a human anymore, you're a talking box of answers, and it's way easier to brush off a talking box of answers than it is to brush off a thinking, feeling, human being. (Besides, who wants to play the role of a talking box of answers for a living? It'd get pretty old pretty fast, I'd think.)
Part of the problem that some kids have at school, as far as I can tell, is that they have too few teachers who are human beings. I mean, sure, all of us have to put on our "teacher hats" when we get in the room and, for example, not tell them that we nearly passed out in the cab back to our apartment after hitting up the bars on Saturday night. There's a pretty clear line between professionalism and boorishness, and for some of us it takes a while to figure out where that is.
Seriously, though... try to remember the best teacher, professor, instructor, whatever, that you've ever had.
Alright. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts ("donuts" if you're south of the border) the thing that first came to mind was their humanity, personality and overall approach, rather than something like, "Wow, I really learned how to factor a quadratic equation from her, real good! Boy-howdy, she was a swell teacher."*
Of course, that doesn't mean teachers should only skate by on personality; ultimately, we're accountable to the kids, their parents and society at large, within the framework of the curriculum the government approves, and guided by our professionalism. But hey, time flies when you're having fun, and seven years... wow. I feel like I'm still just getting started.
* Mrs. Gordon was a pretty good teacher, too, though.