Miss S: Art, English, Literature, and EAL (English as an Additional Language) Teacher

I feel I may have grossly neglected an important part of my life: I'm a teacher.

Had you caught that?  In the midst of posts about reading, hikes, athletic excursions, flights, and cultural blunders, the 40+ hours a week I spend in a school are a bit overlooked.  Nonetheless, I am, indeed, a teacher.  If you don't believe me, check the school website.

For some of you, it's been a while since you've been in a school, so maybe you need a bit of a job description. As a way of reminding you who a teacher is and what they do, I've made a list of some of the things I did this week as part of my teachery-ness:

  • graded middle-school analyses of a Sherlock Holmes mystery
  • distinguished when to underline and when to use quotations in English writing
  • orally examined my English students in cooperation with another English teacher
  • gave 6-year-olds free range to build dragons
  • taught about the present perfect and the present continuous
  • had a flock of 11-year-olds around me handing in their work: finished and on-time
  • firmly rejected student requests for boosted final grades
  • gave before-school help to a couple of struggling students
  • spilled black tempera paint over tables and the floor
  • answered/wrote countless emails
  • monitored communications with a school in India through an international project
  • entered final semester grades
  • gave a student "the talk" (the plagiarism talk that is)
  • gave high-fives to a whole class of 8-year-olds
  • had 1:1 conferences with students to review their project successes and failures
  • taught the word "skillet" to a man old enough to be my father
  • made modified plans for students who were absent to often to be classified
  • graded presentations on every topic from the Seoul metro system to the brain's functions
  • assigned zeroes to inadequate (or invisible) work
  • wrestled with the electronic grade book (in Czech, mind you)
  • graded essays using a sophisticated system of highlighters
  • used hand gestures to teach words like "outline" and "background"
  • laminated signs for the art display
  • showed children the work of Claes Oldenburg
  • wowed students with my drawing skills
  • used coffee in attempt to teach my students with the energy they deserve
  • had an 8-year-old explain "pop art" to me
  • saw countless hands fly in the air as I asked for helpers in the art room
  • sighed and smiled over students
  • heard things like "you're beautiful, Miss S" and "today was the best art class ever!" spoken in earnest
  • gave two students failing marks
Teaching, like any other profession, has it's moments of joy and disappointment, but I'm thankful for the days I spend with my students and colleagues.  Today was the day that I entered final marks.  Of all the things I did this week, the last thing on the list as well as the steadfastness (or stubbornness) I showed in refusing to grant a student less than half a percent to raise from a "C" to a "B" may be the two things that students recall next week.  As much as I'd like every one of my students to get an "A" (or as they'd be called here: a "1"), I refuse to give a student a mark that wrongly portrays their work and accomplishment in our lessons.  Perhaps next week I will have a similar experience  as a professor describes after he'd entered final marks.  I find his reflections astute.  Because, at the end of the day, I care more about my students being able to live responsibly than being able to choose whether they should use the past perfect or past simple.  Perhaps giving them honest marks will help them along that path.  Either way, I plan to rest up this weekend, ready to fight the good fight for just marks all next week.


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