I just had my yearly checkup. I’m sure you’ve had one of these exams. It’s not one that takes place in a doctor’s office, but rather, one that occurs in my heart and mind. I check myself mentally to see if I’m still passionate about what I do. When I find I’m symptomatic of an indifferent attitude, I’ll know it’s time to quit. So how did my exam go? Let’s see.
First I assessed my motivation. How motivated was I to get back into the classroom? Well, this may not have been a fair question for me since I’m actually getting my OWN classroom after twelve years of being a nomad. That’s a HUGE motivator for me. My own space. No more carting files and books and laptops and books and personal items and glasses and …well…everything between two classes. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to a classroom. Motivation for job? Check!
Next I probed my enthusiasm for what I teach. Am I still excited about and do I continue to enjoy teaching writing and American Literature? Am I looking for new ideas to try out on students this year? Am I jazzed to see light bulbs of understanding click on in my student’s eyes? I believe so. Meetings with newer, younger colleagues confirm this in me. When we start talking about our classes, ideas snap, crackle, and pop. I can’t stop thinking about what I’m going to try. Based on my reaction to “shop” talk, I think I can say, Enthusiastic about content? Check!
Another part of my exam dealt with my attitude toward others. Am I looking forward to working with my coworkers, collaborating when possible, on new ideas to implement not only in my classroom but also in the school? My exam took me into a meeting with my principal where we discussed the upcoming year and the plans for our mentoring program. Telling him my ideas and listening to his got me fired up about the changes that will take place this year at my school and to the enhancements to the program. I’m eager to work with new teachers and veterans to make the learning environment at my school more engaging. Attitude positive? Check!
I don’t limit these checkups to a yearly basis. I actually perform them regularly. I don’t want to just be a teacher; I want to be the best teacher I possibly can. I expected that out of those who taught my children. Why wouldn’t I ask the same of myself? This is part of my yearly maintenance as an educator, things I need to monitor regularly in my life. I’ll know it’s time to lay down my keyboard and pen when I can’t respond positively to those questions.
Life is full of changes. I probably won’t teach for the rest of my life. Who knows, maybe I won’t pass my yearly checkup next year. One thing I do know for sure about this upcoming year. I passed my exam in spades and can’t wait to start!