Center Grove Elementary School
34 Years of Teaching; 25 Years at Center Grove
To me, teaching is important because...
To me, teaching is a privilege. To have the opportunity to interact and impact children’s lives on a daily basis is both rewarding, challenging, and humbling. I have certainly gained as much knowledge, love, and life lessons from my students as they have learned from me. During this Pandemic, I have come to realize that education is so much more than the curriculum and what we teach. Instead, it is the connections and relationships we build with our students. It is the environment and framework that we provide for students that enable them to learn and grow. Each year it is my first goal in my classroom to develop a welcoming and accepting culture for all students. I cannot expect students to learn or put forth their best effort if they do not feel safe and accepted. The first few weeks of school each year are critical in forming this safe environment. Once set, students are free to take risks, accept challenges, and work to their full potential. The curriculum is secondary to this critical piece in teaching. During this pandemic, teachers and students are separated, and while both are working hard through eLearning, it cannot replace the classroom environment. What happens inside the classroom is a coming together of different backgrounds, different support systems, different ability levels, and definitely many different personalities. It is the educator’s role to take all of these differences and create a cohesive, blended family that works together and supports one another. When this is done successfully, all students benefit, learn, and thrive to their fullest potential.
The strategies, techniques, technology, and curriculum are secondary. Teachers must have these necessary tools in their toolbelt in order to provide the very best instruction they can for their students. But if the children do not feel safe, valued, and respected, the very best lessons will fall on deaf ears. Teaching is about connecting with the students first and then educating them through the curriculum. The second can not take place if the first has not been accomplished.
When students look back on their year in my classroom, it is my greatest hope that they remember the love and care they felt from me and from their classmates. The curriculum lessons follow naturally when students feel safe and supported. I have high expectations for my students both behaviorally and academically. Because of the relationships built in my class, students rise to meet these expectations. This is not always easy. Many students come to school with supportive families, loving homes, and the desire to do well. But other children do not have those firm foundations in their background. It is the educator’s role to build the support that may be lacking, to inspire confidence where none previously existed, and to let each student know that they are valued and appreciated for what they bring to the classroom. Teaching, to me, is about building strong relationships. It is my life’s work and I am privileged to be able to call myself a teacher.