(1) Everything I teach now is something I've taught before.
Each of my past three years included the learning curve of delivering a new prep. 1st year it was geometry, 2nd year it was algebra, and last year it was strategic algebra. This year, no new prep. If worst comes to worst, I can always go back to 'what I did last year' - a comforting fallback but simultaneously a trap I must avoid.
(2) A better start and end routine.
I'm committing myself to be on campus an hour before class begins (7am) and staying 2 hours after (5pm) on a daily basis. Those added hours before and after class are becoming golden for my sanity and my need to build a line between home life and school life.
(3) It's all about the kids.
I experienced varying levels of 'surviving' during my first three years of teaching. New parameters that'd affect my need to find ways to stay sane. As a fourth year, I no longer feel I'm merely surviving on a day-to-day basis. I now feel a renewed commitment to the students I work with. I want the shift the focus from me and keep the focus on them. Everything I do is towards becoming the best possible teacher for them.
(4) So much Mr. G alumni.
Catching an ex-student in the halls is like seeing an old friend. They are no longer your students, so your interactions go beyond what they once were. But, in some ways they will always be your students. The freshmen I taught my first year are now seniors. What a thought. No walk down the hall is done without some sort of "whattup Mr. G!" And no morning, lunch break, nor after-school session is enjoyed without an ex-student paying a visit.
(5) Year two of Why I've Become A Believer of Our Oakland School
The after-year results of our year one experiment are astonishing. Rises in test scores across the board. Higher retention. And, as a teacher, incredibly strong connections with a community of students. In our second year now, we tighten screws and strengthen everything else that worked last year. I'm still a believer.
(6) A new administrative team.
Our current principal is our 5th in my 4 years, but (again) there's something special about the team we now have in place. Last year, our school hired on a stellar leader as a one year deal as we sought to secure somebody committed for the long haul. We got our person now, and already you can see and feel the changes. I feel school spirit. Weird.
More later on everything. But for now, keep doing your thing out there my teacher friends. Your work never goes unnoticed.