Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On Success, Part 1: Reaching My Goals

Last week, I discussed my five biggest failures this year. This week, I will strike a balance by focusing on my successes. Starting today and ending Saturday, I will share my five greatest successes as a teacher this year.

Of my many life goals, there were two I wanted to accomplish sooner rather than later:
  1. Live and work in a city
  2. Teach in a charter school
I tried and failed to do both three years ago, enduring a seemingly endless string of interviews and sample lessons at charter schools in cities up and down the East Coast. It was extremely disconcerting to make it through the initial interviews, be invited to visit and perform a sample lesson, and not be offered a single job over the course of about six months. I had thought I was a good teacher, but the process left me doubting myself like never before. In the end, I stayed in the Rio Grande Valley and had no regrets.

When the opportunity to accomplish these goals came last year, I jumped at the chance.

Living in the city, for all its financial challenges, was exactly what I had hoped. I can tell you I don't miss the stress of driving. As slow and unreliable as the MBTA is, I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to read and relax while someone else takes me to and from work. My health has benefited from walking everywhere. Most importantly, I'm learned to live with less and tons of new ways to save money (out of necessity).

Working at a charter school has afforded me a genuine freedom I could never have in a traditional public school. Our extended school day and year has allowed me to cover more topics in a much greater depth, and in general I think my students have done very well. I've been free of the pressure of testing madness and had hours of uninterrupted planning time each day.

Besides my core classes, I've been able to design and teach three elective courses: SAT Math Prep, Sports Statistics, and now Web Design & Content. Needless to say, this was an impossibility at my old public school.

These two goals are things I'm glad I got to do now, while I had the flexibility to move without any major restrictions. I know that they would have tortured me had I put them off any longer. That alone is a major success.

In a Sentence

Be specific about your goals, then do what you gotta do to make them happen!