I can’t pinpoint where it all started because I feel as though I’ve wanted to be a teacher my whole life. Maybe as a kid in the classroom I thought teaching looked fun? Interesting? Or maybe it even looked a little easy?
Yes, teaching through my eyes many years ago definitely looked easy. “Kids, take out your workbook…copy these notes from the projector…popcorn read the weeks story…copy down the vocabulary….study those spelling words…take a test.” and then “Oh! you didn’t pay attention did you?! You should take better notes next time! Or maybe you should study a little harder next time!”
Even as I started Education classes at UNA, I would hear my professors discussing engagement, meeting students where they were at, IEP’s, 504’s, DATA and remember thinking there can’t be THAT much to it. It had looked so EASY when I was in school.
AND THEN I embarked on my very first year at a TITLE I, county school. This is where reality set in for me. It’s not just “one lesson” and a test, all students are not the same, it takes a massive amount of time to plan, kids don’t always just sit there and listen.
Luckily for me I had the most amazing mentor/principal that has ever existed. He walked into my classroom one day and challenged me to make things a bit more fun. What he asked me to do has forever changed my teaching strategies and my teaching ways forever. “I want to walk in and see something different. Make your lesson come to life. I’ll be in your room tomorrow after lunch.” and as you can probably guess…at that moment he was not my favorite person. “I have to do what!? TOMORROW?!” As a first year teacher nerves about having the principal in my room again were setting in and I had no idea where to start.
This was a time in my teaching career when I had never heard of people like Ron Clark, Jen Jones, and “Miss Fifth.” I was not a part of the awesome – idea filled- Instagram community of teachers, was new to Pinterest, as well as teachers pay teachers.
So, looking back on my lesson that next day, it is tad bit embarrassing (but HEY…ya gotta start somewhere). I had already written my lesson plans for the next day and we were doing theme and folktales. The folktale I had planned to read to my students was about fish. So I went with it. I brought in a tackle box, fishing pole, EVERYTHING at my house that had to do with….fish/fishing. I even went to PetCo and BOUGHT A FISH! I was sure I had nailed it.
My former principal and I have discussed that lesson (now 4 1/2 years later) and laughed knowing now that it has a lot more to do with the actual content, your enthusiasm as you teach the content, and getting the students involved. BUT had I never had started to try and change my ways of thinking as a teacher I don’t think I would be the teacher I am today.
As I reflect on the type of teacher I am at this moment I’ll list what I consider to be most important to me as a plan lessons:
- Engaging: Room transformations -yes- but also getting my students up and interested in what they are learning about.
- Discovery: I don’t tell my students everything I want them to know – they need time to figure things out and discover answers on their own.
- Reading: Reading is the BIGGEST key to success in my eyes. It is a daily challenge for me to get my students interested in reading and finding books they will enjoy. Yes, we do AR at my school. BUT not meeting your AR goal is not a punishment. It hurts my heart to see students sitting on the fence at recess reading because they haven’t made their AR goal. Reading should be fun and if my students don’t love to read yet, I need to work harder.
With all that being said. I’ll answer the question that titles this post: “Why am I Here?” I am here to share my beliefs about teaching as well as ideas for other teachers to be successful in their own classrooms. I think that putting myself out there to learn and reflect will make me a better teacher in the years to come!