Our last day of school before Christmas break has just started a few minutes ago, and I am feeling pretty good. As of this moment, I’ve graded all of the exams I’ve given – only two, unfortunately, although the non-exam equivalent in another class (a persuasive speech) has been graded in full as well – and I have this hour, which is my normal prep period, to do several things: get my room more organized, think about what I’ll teach when we come back from break in early January, and – of course – reflect.*

It’s a good time for me to sit back and think about what I’ve been able to accomplish this semester, since I feel like I have actually done decently for my first semester of full-time teaching. I have definitely had some low points (see here, here, here, here, here, and here for a small sampling), but I have finally felt in the past two weeks in particular that I’ve been doing an okay job – lots of room for improvement, but there’s some good stuff in what I’m doing and how I’m relating to students. I guess you could say that I’m finally learning my lessons.

I like that I’m ending on a good note. The exams came together, with only minor mistakes so far (and even then, students did well enough with the direction I gave them), and no one has managed to be in such bad shape that they’re in danger of failing, no small success for some students.

And I have already been thinking ahead somewhat: to a nonfiction unit on civil disobedience and protest for my seniors (to build in concepts that they will use for a research paper); to transcendentalism and anti-transcendentalism for my juniors, topics that I am very confident about; to the writing we’ll do in my writing elective that will start the week after we come back. (My sophomores are still somewhat up in the air; I know I’ll be teaching To Kill a Mockingbird, which might be one of my Christmas break re-reads since I haven’t read it since my sophomore year in high school!)

But for now, I’m taking a little break (after I finish grading exams), enjoying some time with family in the meantime. There is definitely more work to be done, but it can wait a little bit.

I think, even with all the failures, that I’ve earned it.

*Yes, I know that was an incredibly convoluted sentence.