27 July 2010

So long, Class of 2010

While this blogging deal fell by the wayside as I finished my Master's degree and became embroiled in the logistical and grading nightmare that is the end of the school year, I still feel that reflecting on the year is a valuable practice...even if it happens two months after the fact.

Life is hard and it never gets any easier. That's just a fact that few fail to recognize as they get closer and closer to a singular goal, losing sight of the other things in life that will rear their ugly heads the moment said goal is realized. Case in point: I figured that the moment I finished jumping through all of the necessary hoops of grading for the year, life would be a breeze. Instead, I had to focus almost immediately on finishing the work for my final University of La Verne class. And then came the necessary organization of my room that I put off at the end of the last school year, paying the price for the procrastination this year. After that, I had a week-long conference. Then my wife and I continue to work on buying a house. And my dog is fat. And I want to read more. And I want to eat better. So on and so on but that's life. Essentially all of these things require attention. Meanwhile, tackling the latest UFC game or spending time with friends or going to weddings competes for more of the minutes and hours of the day. A character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer once said, "I like time. There's so much and so little of it." And that's life in eleven words, man. 

There should be a point here somewhere and this is the best I can do: despite the fact that life requires all people to focus their attention in a million different directions all the time, forever, I still feel like I made improvements as a teacher in the 2009-2010 school year. Much of that improvement comes from my own comfort as well as reflection.

As I become more comfortable with myself in the role of teacher, I find that there are fewer things about which I have to worry. Teaching is odd because it's a job that automatically resets at the beginning of each new year. The methods and procedures may stay the same, with tweaks here and there, but the people with whom I work, the students, constantly changes. Very few career come to mind that have a turnover rate of 100% every year. My colleagues stay the same, sure, but I work with very few of them on a day to day basis besides exchanging pleasantries between periods. My point is that I'm ultimately left to my own devices to become truly comfortable in my role, and this year has been the one where I felt the most at ease and self-assured.

The other aspect that aided in my confidence was finally utilizing some of the tools that felt comfortable to me, namely this blog, the Twitter account and other social networking tools. I started experimenting with these tools early on in the year, but my second semester at University of La Verne forced me to take a solid look at the best and most professional way to integrate something I enjoyed on a personal level into my teaching. Writing a thesis on the implementation of social networking and the professional use of same let me examine and crystalize my own teaching methods. While it was a difficult task, I never felt like I was jumping through the hoops in order to just get it done. Oftentimes a class that doesn't strike a student's fancy can feel like an insurmountable mountain to climb; that's certainly been the case for me during many of my teacher education courses. However, this particular extra long paper never felt that way. It instead felt tangible and relevant. Considering that my first idea involved polling teachers on how much time outside of the classroom they spend on lesson planning and grading, I'm glad that my brilliant wife urged me to write about the tough and rewarding thing as opposed to the simple and boring one.

The new school year will bring new struggles, but I'm confident that they are struggles I can handle. That in itself is growth enough for me.


  1. Morgan Nissel2:43 PM

    Not gonna lie, I'm gonna miss your class, Mr. Talbot! You're a pretty inspirational guy and I'm glad I had the opportunity to finish my high school career in your English class. :) Thanks for the knowledge and mentoring with a hint of what felt like friendship in an appropriate manner. :)

  2. That's all I ever strive for! HOORAY!

  3. Anonymous5:51 PM

    That was long, but pretty cool. i will always remember your class (6th period the most).

    Matt Evans (Remember me)