The school year started abruptly last week, but I find myself enjoying my return to the classroom for what begins my 25th year as an educator (23rd full-time teaching). How in the world can the time have passed so quickly? Seems like yesterday that I graduated from college and had my whole life ahead of me. Now, I have my own child in one of my classes! And another knocking on the door. Crazy. But I wouldn't trade any of it.
We all know teachers get shit on regularly. We're the fucking toilet bowls of society. But I've made a promise to myself (and to my wife and children) that I would stay positive this year. So, despite the myriad of initiatives (which aren't new - only a rehash of what we've already been made to do a hundred times over), the lack of funding, the feeble pay and horrible benefits, the administrative indecisiveness and kowtowing, I plan to kick some serious ass in the classroom this year and enjoy myself along the way.
How? It all starts with the kids. They are why I became a teacher, and why I still push myself every year to keep on chooglin. I love their spirit, their innocence, their smiles, their individual journeys. Do I have the same energy I had when I first started out? Not even close. Am I all-knowing now that I have all these years of experience? Not a chance. One of the best things about being a teacher is that you're always learning. You have to love school. You get high off clean notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils.
Do I make mistakes? You bet your ass. I'm not perfect. But I still have the Drago factor (as an apt pupil put it many years ago when I reluctantly said goodbye). If you know me, you know how passionate I am. How committed I am to fairness and honesty. How genuine (yes, I like to say shit and fuck and balls a lot).
If you've had me as a teacher, you should get that. That's what I hope I'm remembered for. Forget all the acting I've done and characters I've played, I never wear a mask. Above all, that's what I want my students to learn from me. Be yourself. Don't be ashamed or afraid of who you are. Life is too short to be an image.
Thank you to all the teachers who shaped me into who I am today, especially Mr. Martin, Mr. Ferrell, Mr. Rogers, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Farness, and Dr. Woodman. I carry the torch for everything you believed and inspired. You are important to your students. You make the world a better place.