Yesterday was a solid ten out of ten on the teacher joy scale.
Leading up the final assessments in my sophomore and senior classes, I was in a near constant ebb and flow of insecurity. Am I challenging them enough? Am I supporting them enough? The one-liners we all hear at professional development looped through my stream of consciousness as I circulated my classroom.
"Allow students to take ownership of their learning."
"Give students choice and they will be engaged."
The oversimplification of these doled out pieces of advice burden me.
One cannot simply give the class over to the students. Some days my classroom will look like a cover photo for education, but most days it is messier than that. There is a great deal of knowledge that I have to accumulate and scaffolding that I have to do in order for those ideas to materialize.
But I'll be darned, I think those two things ended up materializing.
My seniors participated in their first Socratic Seminar and absolutely blew me away. I sat in the corner taking some notes, but also relishing in the pride I felt for them.
"Hamlet is kind of like Batman. He wants to ensure that justice happens, but he ends up taking down more people than he intended along the way."
"King Claudius is sort of a tyrant. He tries to take everything down that doesn't suit his immediate desires. He's kind of like another leader that has just recently taken office in our country..."
I laughed so hard I cried, and then I read their reflections and cried some more. They loved it. They learned from their peers. They felt that their voices were important in my classroom. They felt empowered.
Those beautiful discussions would have been enough for me, but each class period today reminded me that the effort I put into my classroom isn't for naught. My sophomores presented their multi-genre research papers that they have labored over for the past month and did so with eloquence and professionalism. There were visual representations of schizophrenia. There were fictional stories that represented how the brain reacts in a person with PTSD. I was engaged and entirely impressed.
My other sophomore class filled out their mid-trimester evaluation and were refreshingly honest with me. I'm excited to improve for them. I'm overjoyed that they enjoy being in my classroom.
I'll pocket all of these moments as we start new units next week and I begin to build and scaffold the next opportunities for empowerment and learning in my classroom.