As I returned to my classroom today, after a long day of testing, I noticed for the first time in a long time, “Our Big Goal” bulletin board that I put up on the very first day of school. It says “100% of students will pass the EOC exam”. I meant to add 2 more goals, but after having drawn, cut out, and stapled each and every letter, I decided that that goal alone was big enough (TFA must be so disappointed). Since then my classroom has changed so much, but that board has always remained the same. I never really stop to look at it because I teach facing the other way, but the kids see it everyday.
Today was the last day of our Geometry End of Course exam and I am 100% sure that we did not reach our goal. Let’s just face it, not everyone of my kids will pass. But if I had mustered the strength to put up the other 2 goals, they would have been “100% of students will learn” and “100% of students will grow”. Learn–not just of geometry, but of how a developing a quantitative/problem-solving mind is so integral to life. Grow–not just academically, but socially, and becoming wholesome and passionate individuals. These goals, they have 100% achieved.
In the past year, I have seen my students transform from the stereotype. Those whom teachers labeled as “rotten” became sweet. Those who were “explosive” became contained and thoughtful. Those who were “lazy” became so hard-working. Those who were “unmotivated” became the most competitive. And those who just “didn’t give a fuck” actually “gave a fuck”. In my classroom, these labels dissolved, and I got the chance to see my students for who they really are. Kids. They are just kids. And I believe they have an intrinsic desire to learn no matter their extrinsic circumstances. I have witnessed this first-handedly.
They are dream chasers, society changers, and transformation makers. They are the cure to the pandemic stereotype that infects their communities. They are my inspiration to become a better individual, and a better teacher to those who will come after.
No matter what the outcome, they’ve past their test. And I am still so proud to be their teacher.