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A Sobering Reflection at Year’s End

Bronx Classroom Tales

width=201After I finished my undergrad degree, most of the graduating class drove down to Florida for a week of debauchery fueled by free kegs of lukewarm beer, dollar PBR’s and corndogs on the boardwalk. During those five days, I realized an incredible thing happened. Everyday was the same, to the point of having the same conversations with the same acquaintances in the same spot by the pool, not remembering that we had done it all the day before. It was a shameful cross between National Lampoon’s Van Wilder and Groundhog’s Day. 

 

Here comes the educational connection – I’ve begun to think of each school year as a day of drunken debauchery that gets repeated over and over. 


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Falling down the beach ramp every day is forgetting to plan for 4th quarter progress reports, again. Awkwardly telling your classmate from Philosophy 101 for the third time that you had a crush on her is once more not comprehensively scaffolding essay writing starting in September. 

 

At the end of each year, as we begin to sober up, we realize all the mistakes we made and say to ourselves, next year, that’s going to get cleared up. 

 

But what happens? Next year starts, the summer passing sooner than we expect it to, and here comes that first lukewarm beer:

*classrooms have to be assigned,
*moved into and decorated in three days,
*you learn you have a new curriculum to teach a week before class starts,
*the gym you share with another school decides it will close in the afternoon causing you to completely revamp scheduling. 


All those resolutions are quickly forgotten in the blur of now just trying to get by. 

 

Get by we do, each year, just like no one drowned in the hotel pool in Florida, but could we be doing better than last year? Of course. 

 

Resolutions for Next School Year

Currently on the brink of another completed year, sobering up and reflecting on what happened, I’m making a list of things and begging myself to check the list, not only before September, but throughout the year. I’m going to stick my reminders in envelopes labeled August to June, to continually ask myself if I’m keeping my resolutions.

 

My Resolutions

*In October – “Do they ALL know how to write a thesis statement? Don’t move on until they do!”
*In January – “Has their grammar improved from September? If not, start the process over for the second semester. Skip a book if you have to!” 

*In March – “Have all parents of ‘students in doubt of promotion’ been called in for conferences?”

 

My only fear is that these reminders will seem silly in the midst of whatever pressing issue dominates our attention at the moment. It would be like someone tapping you on the shoulder poolside saying, “Hey, didn’t you tell yourself yesterday not to sign up for beer pong," and you responding, “Whatever dude, beer pong RULES!” In the case of my January reminder, who’s to say I don’t completely disregard it, looking at student work and feeling extra defeated about subject/verb agreement thinking, if they haven’t gotten it by now, they’re not going to. No use going back. Both responses are clouded and ridiculous but they are also real. 

 

New York City’s buzz word in education is accountability. Everyone’s asking, “who will be accountable?,” “how do we hold them accountable?,” “How do we measure accountability?” While answering these questions for the superintendent, we forget to hold ourselves accountable for our own goals, ironically the goals which will most likely best improve our teaching. 


Next year, I’m going to be the designated educator. I’m going to be tapping my own shoulder and those of my fellow instructors and the administration, asking, didn’t we botch this up last year? Let’s do it right this year. No beer pong, no corn dogs.             

 

What are your resolutions for next school year and how do you plan to put them into action?Share your opinion in the comments section!