North Grove Elementary School
14 Years of Teaching; 13.5 Years at Center Grove
What teaching means to me.......
To me, I think back to my favorite teachers, I don’t remember the exact math lessons they taught me or what novel we read in class. I always remember how they made me feel, how they believed in me, and how they took the time to build a relationship with me. As a teacher, I do my best each day to give my students what they need; whether what they need is as simple as a hug, someone to listen to their stories, an encouraging smile, someone to pick them up when they are down, or reassurance before a new activity. I build relationships with my students and provide a safe environment, one in which they are encouraged to take risks and rise to high expectations. My students each year quickly become “my kids” and I enjoy following their adventures as they grow up. I look through each Center Grove newsletter for former students who have been recognized for a recent achievement and take great pride in knowing that I played a small part in their success. Recently I had the pleasure of having one of my former Kindergarten students back in my classroom, this time as she was completing her cadet teaching as a high school students. These students stay in my heart more than just the year I have them in Kindergarten. They forever stay “my kids.” When I first began my teaching career, I had 17 half day Kindergarten students. We played, sang, and by the end of the year students were ready for First Grade as long as they had a good understanding of the letters and sounds. Nothing could have prepared me for what Kindergarten would now look like and what my students would need from me to succeed. Now, 13.5 years later, I have 24 students, all with various needs and backgrounds. Students are expected to be reading, writing sentences, and adding and subtracting by the end of the year. While we still find time to play, sing, and learn social skills, the curriculum looks much different than it did when I first began. As the Kindergarten curriculum continues to develop and change, I routinely adapt my approach to help lead my students to success. As students enter our Kindergarten classroom, I greet them at the door with a smile and a quick check of their learning. We work on building classroom community and relationships as we do our morning greeting and share time. Anytime we share, I learn more and more about my students. Not only do I find out their favorite color or food, but they share about their weekends, their home lives, their hopes and fears, and give me insight to what things they may need that day to succeed. Throughout the day, I differentiate lessons to meet the needs of my various learners. Some students need help learning to sing the alphabet song and recognize the letters in their name, while others are reading at a 2nd Grade level. Using classroom assessments, I am able to see what skills they need to work on and then group them accordingly. As they grow and learn, I take pride in their successes. We high five as they learn once more letter or sound. They show off a fantastic paper to another adult with a smile. I send home a note on a fancy paper to show their parents. They love uploading their book creations to SeeSaw, an app on their iPads. The students especially enjoy when their parents comment on the books they have created. On the converse, when a student struggles, I struggle. I believe that every students will succeed if just given the proper tools and guidance. When a student struggles, I think to myself, “That didn’t work. What does this child need me to do differently so that they can be successful?” We then try that approach until we find what works so that they, too, are successful. Teaching is hard. If anyone ever tells you it is easy, they are lying. As I reflect upon my years as a teacher, I think about the little lives I’ve touched and how they’ve touched mine. I laugh when I remember some of the things they have said to me or done in the classroom. I tear up when I recall how proud the parents were of the accomplishments their child made. It gets more challenging every year, but I wouldn’t trade it for any other profession. The challenges keep me on my toes and make me a better teacher each year. I enjoy it when I get a “breakthrough” with a challenging student, whether that be academic or behavior. The hugs I receive are priceless. They need those hugs and so do I. Teaching is important because teachers change lives and every day I am motivated and encouraged to know that I’ve personally changed countless.