The challenge was placed before us this week. What made you want to be a teacher?
I don’t want to write about that. The reasons I fell into this profession aren’t important. What is important is that I am still here.
The battles from the last few years in education have been daunting. Like so many of my peers, we’ve advocated and fought, and still we remain.
We’ve maintained our classes, suffered losses and bad test scores, changed schools, had new administrators, achieved the impossible, and still we remain.
Follow me on this one…I’m a sucker for office supplies. The smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the heat that emanates from a newly laminated poster, the eternal quest to make sure that the supplies on my desk coordinate with the theme in my room. Yeah, office supplies. To the person who created the paper clip corral, I sincerely hope you made a million with that. You saw a need, you filled a need. To every single person who has ever made an improvement to everything above the piece of lined notebook paper, you knew that there was a need for better organization, better style, and better quality. You may not have invented your creation for the school set, but it has found its way onto our lists, and the children love getting to play with Post-it notes, compasses, and the like. Oh, and to the person who invented Ticonderoga’s, well let’s just say, there is a special place in my heart for you.
My entire career has been spent in an elementary classroom. Do you know what is so great about elementary kids? They are easily distracted. You may scratch your head at a teacher saying she likes distracted kids, but there is a very good reason for this. I am a distracted adult. I consider myself a lifelong learner. I seek out new worlds and new civilizations. The kids are poised for this. They want to get off topic and follow the rabbit down the hole. We learn together, and I always figure out a way to tie it back to what is mandated we do. 😉
If you want to have a club, you make a club. Set some basic ground rules and go! Robotics has been the latest infatuation, and with resources like Botball (http://www.botball.org/OK), the kids and I are learning computer coding as well as ways to tinker. Seriously, I cannot say enough good things about Botball and the support from their staff!
Bulletin boards. Okay, when you’re busy, bulletin boards kind of suck. They also suck when it is dictated how often they should change. When left to our own devices, bulletin boards are an amazing creative outlet. I once painted an 8 foot tall Jimmy Buffet to celebrate famous Mississippians (when I taught in Mississippi)! They can be frou frou, or they can be to the point. They can follow a theme, or they can put students’ work on display. They are whatever you want them to be.
Some people may roll their eyes at this one, but I secretly adore a good PD. If I’m being read powerpoint slides, send me home. If you are welcoming my opinion, engaging me, inviting me to create, I am all over it. As a matter of fact, one of the absolute best PDs I have ever attended was in an EdCamp format. There.Was.No.Agenda. No grant money or otherwise specified funds dictated the drudgery we would have to sit through. No, we got to pick and choose what to discuss and learn. I sat in one “class” for over an hour as we discussed passion. Probably one of the most engaging conversations of which I’ve ever been a part. If you haven’t been to one, join me at then next one!
Human beings have a natural desire to form bonds. Sometimes these bonds form around an idea that is greater than ourselves. What goal could be greater than seeing our children succeed? The camaraderie that educators form are worth their weight in gold. We may disagree on things, but we all strive to do what is in the best interests of the whole child. The more I’m around kids, the more my heart grows. I’m staving off the crotchetyness of old age by filling my heart with these amazing humans.
On the flip side of the amazing little humans, I am getting to see the unconquerable sense of spirit. More and more my students are experiencing horrors in their home lives. Horrors. These people come to me, learn to trust me, learn to love me, and for a while in their day, they learn and play and grow. I provide consistency, a safe place, and fairness – things that are sometimes severely lacking at home.
My days are filled with heartbreak and elation, awesome office supplies, opportunities to learn and grow, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.