Touching Dreams

“Are you going to be teaching English 11 next year?”  Before I could answer, his classmates jokingly berated him for his word choice.  The junior year course isn’t called English 11, but that wasn’t the point.  His point was that he wanted to know if I’ll be his teacher again next year.  “If I had an answer, I’d tell you,” I replied.

And then something dawned on the boy sitting next to him.  “Are you going to be working here at all next year?” he asked.

“If I had an answer, I’d tell you,” I said again.  The energy in the room lulled a little as that sank in, but not much can keep these boys down and within seconds they were joking about something else.

They were extra-squirrelly today.  The cabin fever that results from an unexpected four-day weekend with “polar vortex” wind chills was running rampant through the student body.  I didn’t even try to calm down the study hall when their volume rose above my normally tolerated limit.  I put a stop to some physical horse-play, but that’s about it.  Maybe I should have asked for more quiet focus from them, but honestly, I get it.  I was restless after being cooped up in my apartment for four days, too, and that’s without a teenage metabolism coursing through my veins.  All of my English 10 classes still finished the planned lessons (miraculously, I admit), so I call it a successful day.

If we’d been talking about Hamlet today, I don’t know if we would have made it.  I doubt they could have handled sitting quietly and listening to the recording.  Fortunately, the plan for today was to go over information for the career research project, so while they still had to take detailed notes, we also got to have good discussions about their future plans.  They turned in their career choices today, and they dream big.  Some of their career goals include auto design, international sales, investment banking, bio-medical engineering, and forensic psychology.  Holy cow.

I’m loving it.  I’m listening to the discussions I’ve been hoping to instigate.  Even if their career paths look different in reality than their current dreams, the fact stands that they’re thinking about their futures, planning and preparing while they’re dreaming.  We’re launching them into adulthood, instead of allowing them to drift aimlessly into it.

Everything I’ve been saying for the past year and a half is now at my fingertips.  It has a tangible form and realistic possibilities.  I can see it.  I can touch it.  I’m floored by how right this job is for me.

And then that kid asked his question, bringing me back to the reality of my position.

“Are you going to be working here next year?”

I don’t know, kid.  I don’t know.  But no matter what, we’re going to have an awesome time while I’m here.

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11 thoughts on “Touching Dreams

  1. I’m an English teacher in New Zealand. I teach high school which is years 9-13. I had my first year teaching last year and nothing makes my day more than having a student ask if I’ll be their teacher next year (obviously it depends on the tone, I’m talking about the excited and hopeful tone, not the worried and reluctant tone). I always feel like I must have done something right.

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  2. I also taught and it was one year at a time. I noted that some lessons went well and some did not. It also depended on the class. But one thing was for sure, I was alive with creativity. That made it worth while and then when the light bulb went off in a students head, or better yet in a class that made it dynamite.

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  3. It can be a rewarding for sure! The kids can say some of the sweetest things. One of the biggest compliments I received was when a senior paraphrased me for his senior yearbook quote.

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  4. So great to get such a good response. It goes a long way. I love your enthusiasm…I’ve been teaching 13 years, and definitely, I have to fight burn out. But I love seeing it through your eyes. New, fresh blood is good. 🙂 Praying it all works out for you to stay!

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  5. It’s nice to hear your students know where they want to go. I had no clue what I wanted to do in high school, and here I am, almost eight years later, and all I’ve figured out is that I want to write fiction. Great post. 🙂

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  6. I’m not wondering if this post was about your future, or theirs. While it’s good to plan for the future, I think it’s even better to live for today. By only thinking of the future, you miss out all the opportunities that you have today.

    In high school, I knew what I wanted to do as an adult. As it turned out, I did that for a while, but then decided to try a different path and I’m totally not doing what I planned (and studied) for.

    Let the present immerse you. The future will come quick enough, before you know it. Will you be there next year? For now, you are having a good time, don’t waste it to future uncertainty.

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  7. I love that kind of relationship and involvement between the teacher and the students. It’s obvious they hold you in high regard. I wish I had at least one teacher like you in high school. I never had that kind of attention paid to what I wanted to be in the future, I just had to kind of wing it myself, as a lot of high schoolers do I guess, haha. But it’s refreshing to see that two-way kind of interest and attention between you two. Loved this post!

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