My Defining Moment #youredustory

No moment.  Let’s just put that out there.  I’ve been a teacher all my life.

My mom has old math books with my lesson plans tucked in the pages.  Lots of work, even more homework, harsh consequences.  My 10-year old teacher self ran a tight ship.

My students? Usually stuffed animals.  My younger sister wouldn’t tolerate me and my bossy teacher self for long.

Mrs. Fitzgerald, my 3rd grade teacher, was my model.  I don’t recall a lot of work or huge amounts of homework or an especially harsh woman (my translation of teaching was a bit off).    She ran centers during reading time.  I fondly remember the games we played, the special time we got to read with Mrs. Fitzgerald at the big U-shaped table and her aid, Mrs. Castenada, working with kids all over the room.

I was a talker.  I think I would have sat alone had our room had more space.  As it was, I kept my table partner completely distracted from our lessons.  We played scientist with the pencil holder at our table (contact paper around a soup can).  Two pencils allowed us to reach into our bubbling beaker to extract a very toxic eraser.

I loved school.  I loved playing school.  I was practicing for my teaching career from the start.

In fourth grade, our teacher, Mrs. Dabney, was very ill.  We had a series of substitutes who didn’t stay long.  Mr. Sylvestor was my favorite sub that year.  He was a tall, African American teacher.  That was new.  And he spoke to us as if he knew us from day 1.  As I reflect, he was probably newly credentialed.  He had an easy way about him.  Easier than the other subs whose nerves jumped off them and made the whole class jumpy.  Mr. Sylvestor wore a suit to school.  Also new.  His smile was big and infectious.  I don’t think I had a lot of teachers who smiled.  Why would a smile otherwise stick out?  When he smiled at you, you couldn’t help smile back and feel happy to be at school.

So when was my defining moment?  When did I decide to become a teacher?  Hard to say.  Let’s give 3rd grade the credit.  Mrs. Fitzgerald set the path and Mr. Sylvestor sealed the deal.  I wonder if I’ve payed that forward with any of my students?


What I miss most about teaching… can you guess?

I’m tweaking today’s Blogging Challenge prompt a bit. Not What do I love most about teaching? but What do I miss most about teaching?

My first reaction was obvious, the students.  But it isn’t that simple.  Now, as site principal, they’re all mine, not just my set of 30.  And I feel that way about our kids.  I have a gigantic classroom of 385.

So as individuals, I don’t miss them.  But I do miss the learning moments, the break-throughs, the crazy things kids say during a discussion, the insights of the very young and their struggles (hard to watch) that lead to fist bumps and smiles and high fives (that are amazing).

It’s that back and forth of teaching and learning that I miss.  The intimate relationship that fosters learning unique to each kid in the room.  And noticing just what is needed to keep encouraging, keep the momentum going, keep the bar high but attainable.

My job as site leader and manager just doesn’t feel that subtle or nuanced.  It probably is, but compared to student reactions, adults just don’t do it for me.   The teaching and learning of adults is a totally different animal.  One I’m still figuring out.

My favorite valentine.

My favorite valentine.

My favorite valentine that definitely made it in my annual scrapbook.  Now I just need to maintain that connection to teaching.  Keep putting myself in situations where I can enjoy the learning moments, break-throughs and crazy discussion contributions.

Now What don’t I miss?  Report cards.  Period.  End of list.  #duh