On the contrary, I loved my students. Every year has its great kids and kids you wish the paddles were still legal, but this squad was different. Discipline referrals for infractions other than the mandatory profanity = ZERO. Yeah, none. Part of it is that I don't want to deal with all of the crap that goes into writing and following up on a referral to the office. The other, and more important part, was that my students allowed me to handle things on an individual basis. We created more products, had more fun with technology, and laughed (while learning, of course) more than I had ever done the previous 6 years.
Something else was going on.
To save major details, I felt isolated.
While it's true that I've always wanted to teach at the high school level, it hasn't stopped room 205 from producing some pretty awesome results by way of museum entries, billboards, artwork, community interaction, clubs started, and so much more. We did some ridiculously cool stuff in there. My main goal: make the 8th grade me want to be in my class. I was a punk who knew more than I actually knew. How are you going to impress that me? Challenge me. Engage me. Make me come in and be impressed. DONE.
While the isolation was stressful, other opportunities emerged. The AppsInClass team that I had assembled was a great group to lean on for support throughout the year. They had always been there, and the work that each one of them are doing in their classes deserve their own blogs. We're still working on that, although Jessica makes mincemeat out of my ordinary blogs. The high school had turned me down for a job, the district found someone else for a Math TOSA, and I was ready for something new.
My brother had talked to me about this stupid idea of starting a Twitter account. Why would I do that? The only people who get on there are following celebrities, spewing 140 characters of nonsense, and regularly getting themselves into hot water.
From there, it really began. It is now late October and the proposition will soon be presented to get out of education and join a friend in a business that is close to a sure thing. The problem? It isn't me. It's sales. I can sell Algebra to an 8th grader, but not a product to an adult. It isn't me. But, as I mentioned, I felt isolated. Therefore, the sacrifice was going to be made in favor of my sanity.
I started following Sean and Elizabeth, seeing what they were tweeting and sharing out, and followed their interactions. One guy who was intriguing was someone named Jon Corippo, a principal out in Who-Knows-Where, California. He posted a random message about needing a math teacher... Ears perked, ready to pounce. This was an opportunity to continue doing what I loved. At a high school. That. Was. Awesome.
I no longer felt isolated. From Twitter, I've been able to enhance my classroom and collaborate with so many people that it would be a disservice to those I leave off of any list that I try to compile (already tried, then gave up- sorry, it's tough to pick the top 5, 10, 20, etc.). The strange thing is that many of the people I collaborate with aren't even math teachers. In the classroom, or in the traditional school setting, we gravitate to people within our department. It's easier, more convenient, and we think we have more in common with each other. This couldn't be further from the truth. My #TeamWhiteUndershirt buddies, Sam (tech specialist), Karl (social studies), and JR (chemistry) are there for me whenever necessary. They're badasses in their own subject area, but it's more than just that.
When I first got onto twitter, there were the ultimate Rockstars of the twitterverse, the people who I idolized and wondered how on Earth they had so many followers. To maintain their semi-anonymity, I won't include them. As time went on, and conversations were being carried with these twitter handles, the reality set in: they're teachers. They're regular folks, just like me (in some ways), and they're just flying the open skies of Twitter like I am. Granted, they have the ultimate "Flying V" behind them, but it's not about that at all. There are very few EduCelebrities who actually feel like a celebrity. To test the theory, I tried sending messages to people who I felt were on that level... they responded as if I were another teacher. Imagine that.
When it all comes down to it, Twitter saved my teaching career. I will never feel isolated as long as I have, and continue to grow, my Personal Learning Network. They are there for support when I need it, curating great ideas when we think of it, and reminding us that we are all just teachers trying to keep our sanity.
We have chats that support different ideas. From Standards-Based Grading to California Ed Chat, a chat that I helped found and moderate, to Genius Hour to FlipClass, and many more, there is support available for any teacher looking for a Personal Learning Network.
We have Google Hangouts. Sometimes, 140 characters gets to be too much and we just want to see each other's faces. There have been plenty of times where I've jumped into a GHO with members of my PLN to learn about something great that is going on (or, for the occasional #TeamWhiteUndershirt support session).
We have groups. For me, as a math teacher, the big one that keeps me challenged to new things is the MTBoS, or the Math Twitter Blogosphere. Here is a group of folks who are ditching the textbook, creating rich and real content, challenging their students on a regular basis, and sharing everything they do on a blog or website. I couldn't be more grateful for the content-specific things they are doing to enhance my education.
As I move into my new position and get my new classroom set up, I'm not burnt out. I don't look at August 7th as a day that is coming on too fast. The butterflies will be there on August 6th, only because I'll certainly be excited to meet the 400 new sets of eyes (assuming there are nopirates). There will always be obstacles, but the support of the quantity and quality of people within my PLN is so powerful that the mid-year burnout is seemingly a thing of the past. I almost quit teaching.
What saved my teaching career?