The Teacher I Am Today

IMG_1408Yesterday, I had the pleasure of having lunch with this wonderful group of women.   These women are intelligent, kind, funny, brave, strong, independent, and amazing.  Who are they?  For many years they were my colleagues, teaching alongside me. Along the way, we became friends.  Today, all but one is retired.  They were there when I was getting started as a teacher.  They were the “experienced” ones and I was the new teacher.

Coincidentally, later that afternoon I was scheduled to welcome the new staff to our district.  One of the reasons I felt compelled to volunteer to greet our new staff was because of these ladies.  I wanted to give back what they had given me.    These women played such an important role in shaping me as a educator and human being.   They were the veterans and experienced ones.   This year,  I will be  the “veteran” teacher in my school and I hope I am able to do for others what was done for me.   They taught me what it means to be a teacher by their words and more importantly by their actions.  I was blessed to have such wonderful role models and guides.  Each one taught me something special and unique.  They weren’t assigned to be my mentors, but they “took me under their wings” and contributed a piece to my puzzle.  I learned so many things from my unofficial mentors – organization, parent communication, classroom management, interacting with peers, standing up for myself, identifying learning problems. pacing my lessons, connecting with students, loving my job – the list goes on.  They helped me develop my core values and beliefs about teaching and learning.  They taught me the importance of asking questions, getting involved, showing confidence, and respecting others.  They celebrated my successes and stood by me in difficult times.  I learned that a good teacher is first a good person.  I learned a good teacher is always a learner and lover of knowledge.  I learned that if I did what was in the best interest of my students, I was making the right decision.  So today, I say thank you to the “retired” teachers.  Thank you for sharing the best of you with me.  Thank you for making me the teacher I am today!


Summertime classroom

Well, it’s almost that time again, so I decided to pop into my classroom for my annual inaugural visit. I love coming to school in the summer when no one else is there.  Even after almost 30 years of teaching, there’s something magical and serene about being in my room.  I still need to spend that first day sitting at my desk, looking around, twiddling , my thumbs, pondering the thought of a new group of students, another new year.. I “putter” around a bit, but nothing actually gets accomplished that first day.  I love the quietness and opportunity to reflect.  The classroom is filled with empty  desks spread out into rows, but they won’t stay that way for long.  The challenge this year is – where to put everyone ? Six more desks than last year.  Who will be sitting in those seats? What will this class bring to the table?  Will they love reading and writing? What should we do that first day?

I start to unpack a few boxes, rearrange some furniture, dig through my closet and find all the items I hastily tossed at the end of the year.  You’d think by now, I’d be better organized.  I come across pictures, notes, and letters from last year’s class.  I reminisce a bit – it’s always time for them to move in to middle school.  My thoughts linger on certain ones- how will they fare? I worry about some in particular, others I know are up for the change.  They are still “my kids”. However, I know they always come back those first days of the new year to touch base and share their stories.

I move a desk here and there and then get distracted by something else.  I dust off the shelves in the library. I unpack another box or two, move one pile from one part of the room to another making way for a new crew.

It’s not long before the heat gets the better of me, and I decide to call it a day.  I know there will be many more visits before September.  Today was my day, just for me.  It’s one of my most treasured days- I still get excited that I’m really the teacher in this room and can’t wait for another year filled with adventure and learning new things.