OKTOY Blog: The lessons of leaving my classroom

Jason Proctor in classroomAs OKTOY, I have the unique opportunity to step away from my classroom for a year and travel the state, joining conversations about the amazing profession to which I proudly belong.

Stepping out of the classroom was not an easy transition. There was the logistical aspect of finding qualified coverage for my upper-level math courses as well as my internal struggle. I felt like I was abandoning my students.

There were two valuable lessons learned from the process of stepping away—one for my students and one for me.

Leading up to my last day, my students and I shared many conversations on the “how” and “why” of stepping out. We all agreed that it was not the perfect situation but it was the right thing to do. I could either try and juggle four responsibilities and be mediocre in each, or I could do two things well.

This was a great moment to capitalize on a non-tested teachable moment: Sometimes in life you will be faced with decisions that are not easy and without a clear win.

Much as I do when modeling the thought process in a tough word problem, I shared with my students my thought process of how to handle this difficult situation. I told them about my concern for my family above all else, and I realized I was teaching a lesson that stretched well beyond the classroom walls.

On Monday, Nov. 17, I joined my track team for practice. As I walked into the building, students greeted me warmly with hellos and hugs. Each one stopped to ask how I was and catch up on things. I asked how they were doing in class. They replied that they were doing fine and that their teacher was doing a great job but that it wasn’t the same.

I asked them to elaborate, but they struggled to articulate what they meant. I did, however, understand the overall point they were trying to make.

My colleagues are doing a fantastic job with classroom content and building new connections, but that was not what my students meant when they said it wasn’t the same. They weren’t complaining about their current teachers at all. They were missing me, not my curriculum or teaching style.

What a great reminder of how teaching extends beyond the content, delivery styles, textbooks and tests. At its core teaching is relational. We are relational beings and should never forget that aspect within our classrooms.

By: Jason Proctor
2015 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year





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Last updated on November 20, 2014