Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful November: teaching at Options

Today I'm thankful for my job.  This is my seventh year teaching English to at-risk high school students at Options Charter School.  It's definitely really challenging, but also really rewarding.  I have had students I've been working with get arrested or drop out of high school, but I've also had students I've worked with graduate and go on to great things!  

A few of my favorite teaching moments from my time teaching at Options:
  • Two years ago, I had a student speak at graduation and tell me I was the reason he graduated.  That made my entire year!!!
  • Last year, I had a student who I had been working with since his freshmen year graduate even though all of his friends dropped out along the way.  He's leaving next week to go through basic training for the army.  
  • Yesterday, I had a student tell another student that I'm like her second mom.
Not only do I have amazing stories because of the relationships I'm able to develop with students, I am also challenged every single day to teach these students as well as I can.  I've been pushed way out of my comfort zone by dealing with some of these students who are into things I had never even imagined when I was in high school, including drugs, alcohol, abuse of all kinds, probation, and arrests.  I've been challenged by taking charge of the yearbook and the student government.  I've had my patience, my classroom management skills, and my teaching skills challenged time and time again.  I am a much better teacher because of Options.

It's definitely difficult to face these challenges every day and try to remember that it is all worth it (because some days it definitely doesn't feel like it!), but I can't imagine working anywhere else.  I know that teaching at a traditional high school would be easier, but I would miss the relationships that I've formed with the students and staff.  I would miss the ability to be in complete control over my curriculum.  (I get to choose the books I teach, which is a huge blessing because I get to introduce my students to books I love.  A few of my favorites that I've taught in the past or am planning on teaching later this year are: The Catcher in the Rye, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Monster, Split, The Book Thief, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Kite Runner, Rooftops of Tehran, Brave New World, and Slaughterhouse Five.)  I have to say that I'm so, so thankful for my job.

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