Wednesday, August 12, 2015

High-Diving

I was in at school again today, dropping off some more chairs.  It's an obsession -- 28 MATCHING green camp chairs -- that I must find, even if I need to go to every CVS in the tri-state area to succeed.  While shopping for said chairs in the most recent CVS, my phone rang.  It was an excited student,  Rheanna, who is the incoming president of FBLA.  (Future Business Leaders of America), with many followup questions to an idea we had talked about earlier this summer, so I bought the chairs and headed to school.  (Current chair count, EIGHT.)

After chatting with students planning an exciting year of FBLA activities, several teachers were left standing in the hallway, when the inevitable question was asked again. "When are you going to retire?"

I'm 54.  I have only been teaching for 16 years, and it is something I aspired to do since I was four.  I don't expect that it will happen any time soon, for one spectacular reason.

Amazing teenagers.

There is a spectacular piece in the Huffington Post today by Christine Organ, which sums up my feelings about high school students nicely.  To the Teenage Girls at the Swimming Pool completely illustrates my life at this point.  (Not to mention my past life, as diving was never a strong point for me -- so much so, that when I was a lifeguard during college, I was awarded the "Does She Really Know How to Swim?" award for my inability to do spectacular dives off the board.)  

It would be very easy, some think, for someone my age to pursue a different career at this point.  Be a consultant?  Become an administrator? (bite your tongue...) Work as a teacher trainer?  PhD? Teach college?  I've considered all of those things, and rejected each and every one of them for one reason.

Amazing teenagers.

There are colleagues who talk about their adversity to "Twitting", "Instantgram", and "Pin-ter-est", as if they are being forced to speak a foreign language.  I have all of these Apps, and TRY, even if I haven't mastered them to the point of the folks that have encouraged me, to venture into the techno-world.

Last night, I was invited to co-host a Twitterchat for Te@chthought.  A year ago, I hadn't ever heard of Te@chthought, or Twitter-chatting, and now many of their folks are my lifeline to classroom sanity - my PLN - and my motivation to continue to try new things.  It was a blast, even if I did have to reword countless tweets to meet the character requirement.  (Lord knows, word brevity has never been a strong point of mine.)  I have a Twitter account because of Te@chthought, and now use it for more than just hashtagging my blog entries, which was my original intent.

And while my Instagram (notice the lack of "t"), and Pintrest (notice the lack of "er") are less than stellar, I have an understanding of the platforms and see potential.  Why?

Amazing teenagers.

When will I retire?  When I am no longer willing to search for 28 matching green chairs to help foster a better collaborative or Socratic discussion in my classroom.  Meanwhile, I meet people where they are -- and most of those Amazing Teenagers have some encouraging to do for this teacher standing on the high dive, hoping not to hit the water belly-first.

If you haven't read Christine Organ's piece, you won't understand that last reference.  So click here.