Many people have these great stories about how they had always wanted to be a teacher. I can remember “playing” school when I was kid but we also played “cowboys and indians,” and I don’t really remember ever thinking to myself that I want to be a teacher when I grow up…or a cowboy or indian for that matter. I didn’t start in the field of education and didn’t attend college right after high school. I was working in restaurant management and was managing a restaurant at the age of 19. Money was good and I was living on my own. When kids and marriage came along, yes in that order, I didn’t like the working hours so I left and went into mortgage banking. I thought I wanted an office job, but boy was I wrong. I learned 5 different departments in the 18 months I was there to keep myself from getting bored to death. Thankfully, the bank was taken over by the federal government and I left to go work in a daycare…with a huge pay-cut. But my kids could attend free, so it sort of evened out. Within six months I became an assistant director. It was then, that I realized, I really enjoyed working with kids. Thankfully, my daughters had some really good teachers, that let me come in and observe, so I could really see what teaching would be like. It took six years to get my bachelors degree in elementary education while still working part-time and raising children. I loved the elementary school environment. Soon after I began teaching, I returned to college to pursue my masters degree in early childhood. And here I am today. In the nine years that I have been teaching I have worked in grades 1-5 and spent three of those years teaching a single gender class of all boys. That was truly a great experience…and I really mean that. I have always worked in a classroom that included special education students. First, with Title I and then in co-taught classrooms. This coming school year will be my second year working with a truly exceptional special education teacher that shares some of my same philosophies on teaching. We have gone to many workshops and conferences together and traveled often to see many great educators in action.
I love what I do and I am continually inspired by the great educators that share their passion for teaching.
I am also married to my best friend and soul mate and life is good. Together we have been blessed with five exceptional daughters and six amazing grandchildren.
I decided to start blogging because I want to share what is happening in my classroom and I would like to connect with other like-minded educators. Teaching in a co-taught classroom brings many challenges every day. Through this blog, I would like to share our successes, failures, and challenges and invite other educators to comment, advise and share their experiences. It is a place that I would like to grow as an educator and writer so that I can be a better teacher for my students.
I just returned yesterday from the ISTE 2015 conference in Philadelphia. It was truly one of the most powerful experiences I have had and I am looking forward to next years conference in Denver.
One of the great takeaways that stuck with me was the idea that educators have the power to motivate and engage students everyday in the classroom. There are many great books and articles and websites that suggest many ways to engage and motivate students and I have read many of them. I find them very useful and inspiring and I use many of the techniques and strategies that are suggested. But the one thing that resonates with me is that it has to come from your heart. You have to believe it and you have to deliver it with the same engagement and motivation that you want your students to have. In every edchat, workshop or session I attended, each speaker was filled with passion for what they do. I never once thought to myself, I want to gouge my eyes out, I can’t wait until this is over. And believe me, I have been in those types of workshops too. Instead, I felt inspired, empowered and supported. I left with so many ideas to use in my classroom and I am excited to start next year. I am determined to do it with the mindset that I as an educator do have the power to engage and motivate my students in ways that will prepare them for the 21st century skills they will need to be successful.
I also reflected back on my year in the classroom and when I think of the times my students were excited to learn and were engaged in what they were doing, it often involved technology or some kind of hands on or collaborative project. They loved Skyping with other classes during the Global Read Aloud, they loved blogging on Kidblog, and they like Poetry Friday. Now, how can I take those ideas and make them even better? I can get excited about them. Be passionate when introducing the ideas to the students and parents. Ask the kids for their ideas and opinions. Share with other educators what is working and what isn’t working. I have connected with so many people, someone may have a better way to do something. Be flexible and have the courage to step out of my comfort zone. I know not everything I plan on using will be successful. But as I heard many times in the conference, FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning. We won’t know if something will work or what we need to do to make it better unless we just put ourselves out there and do it. I am committed to showing my students that our learning extends well beyond our classroom walls.
What are you willing to do as an educator to motivate and engage your students?
I got a letter today from a student that I had when I looped from fourth to fifth grade in a single gender all boys classroom. I hadn’t heard from him since he left fifth grade. He was on our county website and decided to look up some teachers and found me. It was a short message just to say hi but it was his last words that inspired me the most, “You were a good teacher and stuff.” I know it’s not much, but it meant a lot to me. I responded that I was glad to hear from him and hoped he would keep in touch and I of course thanked him for his kind words. He will be a freshmen this year and I hope that I truly made a difference in the two years he was with me.
So my students are what inspire me the most. Even the challenging ones as they are often the ones that need us the most!