Sunday, April 26, 2015
The First Five Minutes
Post by Adam Hopkins: Adam is in his first year of teaching Spanish at Bettendorf High School. You can follow Adam on Twitter @AdamHopkins1988
3:15-3:20. The first five minutes are always the toughest. Each day my students countdown the waning seconds of the day and rush out as the bell sounds throughout the school. I am left alone in a room where the after effects of 75 students can be seen from unorganized desks, paper on the floor, and drawings on the board. I am left looking around contemplating exactly what just happened over the past eight hours, feeling like I survived a 12 round grudge match. It’s during this time I self-reflect and question how my day went: Did I use my time wisely? Was today’s lesson beneficial? Did my students enjoy being there? Each of these questions always runs through my head while coming to different conclusions depending on the day. Some days go exactly as planned while others seem to be utter chaos. Being a self-perfectionist, I can easily get down on myself and question my ability if I’m making a difference.
Then the students start to trickle in. One by one, they come in for different reasons: for reassessment, to make-up a quiz, to clarify a concept, or to simply say hello despite seeing me three hours earlier. It’s a time that has been adopted as the “Spanish Fiesta Party.” (Yes, as a Spanish teacher, I understand the redundancy of the name). Some have embraced it, asking if they can come to the fiesta party after school to take a quiz while with others I use the name/idea to put a smile on the face of a student who truly does not want to be on campus past 3:16. Do I prefer to stay at school until 5 every night? No. But that extra hour and half each day has made me realize I am doing something right. I enjoy students coming in caring about their grades and putting their best effort forward whether it is A+ or C- work. What I do enjoy is when students start to stay an extra 30 minutes to talk about their interests or my interests as we trade opinions on video games, music, and sports.
As a teacher, my friends know how late I tend to stay at work or that I come in on the weekends to get things ready. They know of my frustrations not being able to leave work at work or my buttons being pushed one too many times and they ask me if it is all worth it. My response is always yes. Of course I have those difficult days where I question my sanity but the connections I have made with students here at BHS trump any difficulty that I have encountered. The hardest part of having to leave my last school was not the building, administration, or co-workers. It was leaving the connections that I had made with the students. This is what ultimately makes me want to come in every day. I love having students being comfortable to open up and be their selves to make a classroom environment worth coming to each day.
As my first year comes to an end at BHS, I am excited for the future. Watching students grow both academically as well as socially is something I cannot put a monetary value on. As long as I continue to watch students grow and succeed, my passion for being in the classroom will continue to strengthen. My students push me to be a better teacher and person even if they do not realize it. My students are the reason why I can so passionately defend my career choice so when someone asks me if I truly enjoy being a teacher, I can, without a doubt, say yes.
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