My Arrows: Reflections of a Second-Year Teacher

As always, the end of the year is an emotional time for me as I reflect on all the Lord has done in Room A-11.

Here are some highlights from year #2 of teaching!

Sweet Parent Conference. Parent conferences always make me nervous, just because I never know what to expect. But during this one particular meeting, the dad looked me in the eyes and said, “Miss Percy, I don’t know what you do, but placing my daughter in your regular ed classroom was the best decision I’ve made concerning her education. She loves you and talks nonstop about your class. Thank you so much for all you’ve done for my baby.” (And yes, I did get teary-eyed right there in front of the dad and my boss!)

The world of AP. Teaching advanced placement students definitely brought with it unique challenges. I’m just going to leave it at that. 😉

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My coworkers. Seriously, there are no words to describe the relationship we have. I love these two so much and would literally be lost without their love and support.

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Day One. I’ll never forget my first day this year. I of course showed my “Welcome to Room A-11” PowerPoint, passed out my syllabus and all the other 500 pieces of paper that accompany the first day of school. But then I had my kids do an assignment. We read a poem together about an old bookstore. We picked it apart, line by line, and discovered that the bookstore was the narrator’s place of solace. I pulled up a Word document on my Smartboard and modeled writing my own poem about my own place of solace – Dillard’s. The kids went nuts! They loved that I had a shopping problem, and that I’m a diva, and in that moment, we started building classroom community. I typed a few lines, but when I got stuck on what to write next, I asked for their help. Allowing students to have a say in my writing not only showed them that writing is hard (even for their teacher!), but it also let them know that I value what they have to say. It was beautiful. Naturally what followed was turning them loose to write their own poems, and whatever they didn’t finish during class was homework. Yes, homework on the first night!

Mentor Sentences! This one gets an exclamation point because Mentor Sentences are Jeff Anderson’s innovative way of teaching kids grammar by showing them well-written sentences, having them NOTICE what’s going on in the sentence, and then having them create their own sentences using the mentor as their example.

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My favorite sentences that my kids wrote this year were:

If this were a silent movie, Hayden would look like he’s having a seizure. – Summer Gray

If this were a rap song, it would be titled “Well, This is Awkward.” – Ryan Elrod

Share Time! This one also gets an exclamation point because it may or may not have been my favorite! I absolutely LOVED was share time, criss-cross applesauce style. We would read a mentor text usually on a Monday, and whatever the message from the text was, I would ask students to respond to that message. For example, we read an excerpt from Positive about an instance where the main character was bullied. But from that experience, she learned a bigger lesson. So I asked students to write about a time they encountered a tough situation and walked away having learned something from it. I allowed my kids at least 20 minutes every day for the rest of the week to add to, edit, or revise their writing, and Friday was share time. We all got in the floor and went around the circle and shared our writing. Yes, I shared as well. You would not BELIEVE the things 13-year-olds wrote… Some stories so funny we all belly laughed until it hurt, some stories so painstakingly beautiful the tears flowed freely.

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This, I feel, was the most special time I shared with my students. Writing is so very personal, and it takes great courage to share that most intimate part of your life, laying down your inhibitions and insecurities of “Oh gosh, did I use the right word there?” or “Ugh, everyone is going to think I’m so DUMB for sharing this!” But the moment you look up and see nods of approval and smiles of encouragement makes the whole gut-wrenching process worth it.

High School Visit. For the past two years, we have taken the 8th grade class across the street for a tour of the high school. This is an awesome opportunity for our kids to get to see the inside of the school before they have to venture there as “fresh meat” *cough cough* freshmen.

During our visit this year, some (okay most) teachers stood at their doorways and allowed their students to say hey to the passing teachers and students. Not only was it overwhelming being hugged by all of my first-year babies, but one student in particular LEFT his classroom and ambushed me in the hallway with hugs and “I miss you’s.” Then, he led me back to his English classroom, and introduced me to his current English teacher. Our conversations went as follows:

She: “You must be Miss Percy.”

Me: “Guilty! I’m so sorry Hakeem left the classroom!!”

She: “Oh, no problem. He was having a fit to see you. In fact, all these kids were.”

(She steps aside and I see 20 waving hands and hear a chorale “Hey Miss Percy’s”.)

She: “I’ve heard so much about yo—“

Me: “Oh, I’m so sorry, I know how obnoxious that can be!”

She: “No, no! They really love you, and you really prepared them for this year! They are great with text-based questions!”

Me: Speechless. Beaming with pride. Overwhelmed with love for my first group. In AWE of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

If you’ve ever had a conversation with me, you know that I seriously love what I do. I love English, I love reading, I love writing, and I love teaching. But more importantly than that, I know that Jesus has placed me exactly where I am to make a difference for His Kingdom. I am so thankful and so grateful that I have the opportunity to love on 90 different kids each year. And boy do I ever love the kids I teach… It’s hard to put into words what I feel for them. I feel like a proud parent whenever a struggling reader makes an A on a test; I am definitely a cheerleader on the sidelines when my football boys make a great play; I am that scolding mother when my kids tell each other to shut up; I am a disciplinarian when some yahoo lets a cuss word slip; and I am a listening ear when the burden of being a teenager becomes too much.

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And I am only these things because Jesus lives in me; I am only these things because of God’s providential hand in my life; I am only these things because Psalm 127 applies to me as a teacher:

[4]       Like arrows in the hands of a warrior,

So are the children of one’s youth.

[5]       How blessed is the man whose

quiver is full of them;

They will not be ashamed

When they speak with their enemies

in the gate.

Arrows are meant to be shot out from a bow. And while these kids aren’t biologically mine, it’s my job to invest in them while they’re still mine in the classroom, to prepare them for high school, and then to send them over to the other side of Dilworth Lane. But that’s not all I desire—I so desperately pray that my students grow and mature into good people, people who fear the Lord, people who love and serve Him, and people who honor Him with their lives. My prayer is that when I see them years and years down the road that I will not be ashamed, and that the Lord will have fulfilled my prayers concerning my arrows.

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Here’s a video of my 6/7th period arrows. 🙂 Please watch and fall in love with these kids as much as I did! (It might take a minute to load, or you might have to press the HD button in the bottom right corner.)

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