California Educator

August / September 2017

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any say that teaching is a life- sty l e , a h a rd li f e b u t a g o o d life. e life of a true teacher is a distinguished one among so many occu- pations in this world. But what happens when life interferes with our teaching lifestyle? In 2014 my life changed forever : I was diagnosed with brain cancer. While my private life was rede- fining itself in many ways, one area that wasn't being redefined was teaching. For m e , t e a chi n g a n d the classroom were won- d e r f u l div e r si o n s t o my own personal fight for life, a reminder that the world was continuing on and that despite my cancer I still played a role in this world. I knew there were things in my life that were bigger than me, like my students, my school, my colleagues, and most of all my faith. I waited until after my students took their AP European History exam to tell them. They were amazingly supportive. One of the most wonderful things they did was to write letters to me, laminate them and put them in a book. In addition to daily encouragement, school staff gave me a bouquet of his- torical figures containing gi f t card s for m eal s, for when I would be too tired o r si c k t o m a k e d i n n e r. S e v e r a l w e re w i l l i n g t o g i v e m e t h e i r o w n s i c k time in case I needed to take an extended period of time off. ankfully, I didn't need it. But I will always cherish how staff, students and students' families reached out to help me. I had always been told we were a family at West Ranch, and now I experienced it. In the summer of 2014 I underwent Lessons Learned Cancer teaches educator about life and living By Adam Holland Adam Holland on how the way he teaches has changed: • I tell students that challenges are not always bad. I teach AP European History. During the year, so many kids wonder why they took such a difficult course, but at the end of the year or even years later, it all clicks, and they see that the chal- lenging times were worth it. When we're going through those hard times, I tell them that I had cancer, and it was one of the greatest gifts I ever received. I truly mean that! • I want all students to know that I'm on their side and want them to have the best education I can give them. To do well, they need to know they are suppor ted and cared for. I teach students histor y; I don't teach histor y to students. It might be a subtle shift of words, but it 's enormous when it comes to teaching. Students always come first in education. • I tell them that life doesn't always go as expected. They're looking ahead, and the future looks so bright. They want to take on the world, and I love that passion. But I also want them to have realistic expectations. Like climbing a mountain, you don't jump from valley to peak at once. You take it a step at a time, and eventually with persistence and forti- tude you get to the top. • I tell students they need to do something they love, and they'll never work a day in their life. That's a big part of my own story. I wake up tired, but it is a joy to come to work each day, work hard with and for my students and staff, and go home tired. I am much happier than many who have so much more than I ever will. I love teaching. M 17 A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 017 Y O U R V O I C E P Adam Holland Continued on page 18

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