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Sunday, April 10, 2011


Tomorrow I begin the fourth academic quarter of my first full year teaching. Hopefully, by the summer I will have been offered a continuing contract with my district, acquiring at least a small measure of security. In a profession that has been much denigrated of late, it will be nice to have some verification that I am doing the job to someone's satisfaction. Over the last year, I have received a lot of praise. My graduate cohort leader holds me up as an example to her current students, inviting me back to give presentations from my pedagogy. New teachers come to me for advice, believing I must have answers to some of their questions. Administrators write glowing reviews. Students praise me in the halls.

And I don't deserve any of it.

I have been doing this for a grand total of 14 months, counting the past summer where I had no students, but carefully modified hastily constructed lessons from the year before. In June, when I celebrate the end of my first full year, one of my closest colleagues will mark the end of a career spanning decades. She is the one who deserves praise, not me.

Don't get me wrong. Nobody who knows me personally would accuse me of being modest. I believe very much in my own potential for greatness. I just know I haven't made it there yet. Outside of a few memorable lessons and a willingness to experiment outside of accepted norms, I am a pretty typical teacher. There's really no danger of my story being adapted into a screenplay.

But I have promised myself that my best is yet to come. I vow to constantly grow, to adapt, and to evolve into an educator that students never forget. I doubt Disney will ever come knocking at my door. I doubt I'll ever even get much in the way of a thank you. But as long as I can look back someday and know that I fought the fight even when others said it couldn't be won, well then I'll be willing to accept any praise.

Because then I will know I deserve it.


Rebecca said...

Congratulations! There is always room to evolve and improve, you are right about that.

Jackie Ballarini said...

I honestly have not met one teacher who says they are doing an "amazing" job every day. I'm in my fourth year and still working on "doing okay". I'm hoping great will come.

I hope to hear more about your experiences, whether this past year or in the years to come.

Matt Vaudrey said...

We never arrive, dude. As time passes, teachers have more good ideas (most stolen) that we feel good about mentioning or demonstrating, but I'll bet your colleague also felt like she hadn't yet arrived, she had just finished.
It's like doing a scavenger hunt with a million items; we don't get everything, but we run out of time.