So this week was my last week with my 1st group of Seniors. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed teaching these 12th grade students. I love government so teaching them about government and how it works, there are so many things I wish I could have done differently, things I wish I could have taught that I didn't, books we could have read but didn't... and so many other changes. Luckily, I will get to try again next year in the hopes of making what I teach better. I want them to fall in love with government and its inner workings just like I have. Yet, I don't want to just read about it, or memorize facts, I want them to really experience it. So, this year I was sort of just flying by the seat of my pants trying to get something done and something taught. Now that I have my feet wet, I hope it gets better!
I also taught them about Economics. That terrified me every moment. I took Economics.... I understood enough of it and worked my butt off to get an A. However, scraping an A out of my Economics classes in University is completely different than teaching Economics.... AND there is math in Economics! I don't do math. When Makenzie (my 8 year old) brings home her 4th grade Math homework I break out in a cold sweat. Trying to teach something I barely understood was really shaking my confidence. So, I spent every night before class studying as much as I could, staying up late, reading my textbook, online articles, whatever I could to help me understand what I would be teaching the next day. I know I didn't fool my students. I know they knew I had no clue what I was talking about sometimes. I love that I work in a place though that allows for teacher input. In talking about what I was teaching I was able to find a solution. There were so many concepts I was teaching that were really not necessary for the students to learn about. Especially considering I only had about 8 or 9 weeks to teach it all! I've been able to make changes for next year now to teach Economics concepts that I am really comfortable with AND will be SOOOOO relevant to my students. This really excites me! I so wish I could have offered that to my students this year. I love each one of these kids now young adults and I think we could have had a blast in class if I had been more comfortable with the material I was teaching.
Lastly, I taught about different Worldviews. I have to say this was my favorite material... even though I LOVE government. We learned about Secularism, Post-Modernism, Marxism, Islam, Christianity, and New Spirituality. Again, I wish I had been more familiar with this material. I had so many ideas on how I wanted to teach it, but I just didn't have the time! I barely had the time to read the material and understand everything, and now that I have I finally have the time to find different ways of teaching it and helping the students understand and experience it. I so wish I could have made this experience better for them. Within Worldview I got to really challenge them to think about what they believe however, and I really enjoyed that, and I think for the most part they appreciated that the most about my class.
So, as the year came to a close I wrote a few words to share with them that I hoped they could take and use to inspire, encourage, and challenge them as they go out and begin their new adventure.
This is just a bit of what I shared with them:
"You have a come this far in life, you have had teachers, parents, coaches, and mentors pour into you. Trust your decisions and trust your dreams.... To achieve greatness and do something you never imagined possible you will have to break some rules. I have learned that sometimes in order to make things happen you have to just go with it and ask for forgiveness later.... Failure helps you avoid future failures. If someone never fails then they are more likely to trip up later, but if you fail you learn something and it makes you better. Sometimes, the lessons you learn from failing will be the ones that stick with you and will help you realize something you never even dreamed could be possible.... Don't listen to the people who say you can't. Take the opportunity to prove them wrong. Be confident in what you do, and take pride in your work. When someone tells me I can't do something I see it as a challenge to show him or her that it really was possible.... In some instances my determination to prove them wrong has then led me to find something new I didn't even know I loved!... Take each opportunity in which someone says you can't do something to inspire you to do something great!... Live life like this is your 2nd chance. (A lot of people and now these students know this is how I live my life and why). Are you spending your time on the right thing? Ask yourself this A LOT because time is all you have and you may discover one day you have less time left than you think. A lot of people want a short cut, but the best short cut is the long way. Which basically means just WORK HARD and work your butt off. And remember, no job is beneath you. If you get a job flipping hamburgers, you be really great at flipping hamburgers (or making pizzas as some of my students might consider one day). If you get a job cleaning toilets, you be really great at cleaning toilets.... You should always be looking for ways to give back to others. Find opportunities to invest in younger generations. Look for ways to help those less fortunate than you and truly show them you care. Explore the world, but not as a tourist. Explore the world and look for way's you could change people's lives, and you might just find your life is changed for the better. The way you perceive and react to the world is a choice. Make wise choices. Don't let the world make choices for you, because only you get to determine how you will respond to things you see and people you meet.... If you took one tenth of the energy you spend complaining and apply it to the problem you would be surprised by the result. No matter how bad things are you can always make them worse, so try to view even awful situations for the good that can come form them, and don't forget that even then it could be worse.... Some of the friendships you make at University will last a lifetime. Make wise choices in friends. YOU set the tone of the relationship and don't let someone lead you astray from what you know is right or wrong because you are looking for a group to fit in with or a place to belong.... Don't judge people by the way they look. You may discover some amazing people are hiding behind a lot of different exteriors. One of your best friends you make at University may appear completely different than you, but you might discover you have a whole lot in common. Ecclesiastes 4:9 - 12 says, "Two people are better than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back to back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple braided cord is not easily broken." Find you a person to stand back to back with and hang on to them.... Don't be afraid to leave your plans for a new dream... no matter how many times a new dream comes along... Be prepared for great opportunities... luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Make a plan, be okay with changing it, but have a plan so when the opportunity comes you are ready.... Don't forget God has a plan for you, and knows everything about you so even though you are venturing off to start a new chapter in your book, make sure that chapter includes time alone with God, and time with other believers who can build you up.... Your definition of success is going to change... A LOT!... What you envision as successful now will not be the same next year, and for sure not the same in 4 years of even in 10 years. Be okay with that definition of success changing. As you are shaped and as you learn some of the biggest lesson in life you will ever learn over the next 4 years think about what you view as success. Think about what is really important to you and hold on to that. When everything in this world one day fades away, how will you define success? You are about to embark on an incredible journey, and make some the best memories of your life, and have probably what you will say is the most fun you will ever have. Remember this is just the beginning though, and I know God had amazing things in store for all of you. Every single one of you has the potential to be an incredible influence on this world in so many different way, so go out and be great, go out and create a new definition of success that has yet to even be imagined."
I wish I could have added "I'm sorry you were the guinea pigs. The class that I had to practice with and learn from. I wish I could have made everything as great as I envisioned it. I am so glad that you were in my class this year. I truly loved every moment I got to spend getting to know you. I enjoyed watching you learn about yourselves and interact with one another. I think you all are so blessed to have such a great group of friends to continue on with, and don't take the foundation you have gained here for granted. At the end of the day I hope you learned a little about government, a little about different worldviews, maybe even a little about economics, but I hope more than anything you learned you have someone who cares greatly for you and about your future in me. And I hope you learned about yourself and your relationship with God. I hope that relationship was strengthened and I want you to know if you ever need anything I am happy to help! I can't wait to see how each one of you change the world.
That's what I wish I could have added. I wish I could have done so many other things, and now I am even more challenged to make next year so much better than this year was.
The end of the school year is a mix of emotions, but this year saying goodbye to these seniors, who have genuinely touched my heart, is quite a challenge. I plan to take better advantage of my time next year for sure!