Monday, July 27, 2015

Forever a learner, sometimes a teacher

It's amazing the places you can find inspiration. Sometimes it's in the smallest of details in a moment, and sometimes, it's right out in the open. 
I have taught swimming lessons for almost seven years now. When I first started I was a nervous wreck and had absolutely no idea what to do. (Much like I anticipate my first year of teaching to be.) Now, years down the line it's something I cherish and, dare I say, something I even thrive at? 
During my most recent session of swim lessons I have been teaching a class of older, but beginner swimmers. They have some skills, but some still have fear of the water while others are ready to dive in and do whatever I ask. I ask myself everyday, how can I bridge this gap? What can I do to make sure I reach every single child? Then suddenly, somehow, the answer comes to me. I push myself to do better with the lower students, and then offer new opportunities to the higher. I never limit them to keep the others caught up. It may be something as simple as keeping their face in the water while the others are able to look up. Or it may be something more complex as to learning a different stroke while other students are still learning the basics. 
Often times during school I am asked as a teacher what my greatest strength and what my greatest weakness would be. My greatest strength has always been my empathy, my ability to listen to each student and the struggles they face. As much as I have tried to fight it, my greatest weakness has been my flexibility. I never thought it would be possible for me to find a way to reach each student when some are very advance and some struggle a little more. Slowly, I am turning my weakness into a strength and I believe giving swim lessons has allowed me to realize that. 
So I look forward to my career as a teacher. I look forward to the first time I step foot in a classroom. I look forward to 10 years down the road continuing to reach students in any way that I can. I look forward to looking back and realizing I have grown as much as my students have in a single school year. 
Here's to teaching, and learning for the rest of my life because it's what I was born to do. 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Those who can, teach.

Recently I was presented with an article released on Huffington Post, you can find this article here.  Teachers always seem to be presented as the bad guys, the ones that cannot do anything. After all, “those who can’t do, teach.” Teachers have been given a bad name from the start, there will always be someone out there who thinks that they can do better, and that is fine. Let them think, let them write, and let them speak. Why? Because who gave these politicians that ability? Oh, that’s right, a teacher. Regardless of that fact, it does not matter. When will it end? How can it end? First it was the students fault and now it is the teachers. There is always going to be someone to blame as long as there is no change.
Change is not something that can happen overnight, it is going to take time and it is going to take effort. However, that is not good enough for the politicians who feel the need to stick their nose into the educational system. How many of them really know how a classroom is run today? The type of managing skills it takes, and how much time and preparation teachers use to get ready for one single lesson? Even more time and preparation is put into preparing teachers as they go into the field. “The NCTQ report quantifies how easy it is for teacher preparation students compared with those other fields of study The NCTQ report quantifies how easy it is for teacher preparation students compared with those other fields of study.”  Again, how do they know this? Because more As are given out than in any other major? What I want to know is how many of these people have talked to the students behind the grades? As an elementary education major I do not recall a single person coming to talk to me about how easy my classes are and how little effort it takes to receive the grades I do. I do not remember them being on the other end of the phone when I call home debating joining the circus because of how stressed I am. I do not recall them comforting me when I am having one of my many breakdowns, much less being around when my peers are having the exact same breakdowns.
When you decide to pursue a college education you are not doing it because it is easy. Hopefully you are doing it because it is something you are passionate about, that is what makes it easy. Ask me, ask any of my peers, when we decided to become teachers we did not do it because we wanted an “MRS.” Degree, we did it because we love teaching, sharing our knowledge, and helping children reach their fullest potential.

So I invite you, mister politician, mister article writer, and anyone reading this, come into our classrooms. The ones we are in now as we prepare to go on our journey, and the ones we will one day teach in. Come see what it is that is so “easy” see what it is that makes us underachievers that are handed grades. Just remember, because of the teachers you had, you are able to speak badly of the future teachers. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Crazy Ones

“If most of the class doesn’t get it, it is our responsibility. If 25 percent of the class doesn’t get it, it is still our responsibility. And if one child doesn’t get it, it remains our responsibility. It’s not about teaching the same lesson over and over again, because that doesn’t work. We need to redesign our lessons keeping in mind what we have learned from our kids and letting that information guide our instruction.”
When doing my reading for one of my classes I came across this quote and I realized just how true it is. In high school and elementary school even, I had lots of teachers who “taught to the test” or taught the same thing year after year. If a student of theirs did not understand or could not comprehend what was being taught? They would move on. These are the teachers that made me lose my passion for learning. My mom often told me as a child that I would not perform to my capabilities because I did not like the teacher. She was right. I knew it and I believe my teachers knew it as well. If a teacher was boring and uninteresting so was I. I was withdrawn from the class and did not care about my grades. It was these teachers that made me not want to become one myself. I was always afraid that if I did, I would have students just like myself and that I would become one of those boring, “by the book” teachers.
But then there were the good teachers, the ones that made learning a fun, memorable experience. The ones that pushed my thinking to the limits and the ones that made me anxious to learn more and more every single day. These are the teachers I aspire to be like. Growing up with a mother as a teacher I found myself surrounded by them. Often were the times I would come home from school and there would be a patio full of my former teachers outside. Laughing, talking, and acting like real people. Quietly I would slink outside and sit in a chair off a little ways from them; I would actively listen to their conversations for hours. Oh what it was like to hear from the inside of a teachers mind! They talked about test scores, and lesson plans, and things they had to do to get ready for the next day, however they also talked about their students, and how they could help their students. These teachers took the time to mention one kid out of their class to their peers because he/she was struggling and they wanted new ideas of how to catch them up.

So this is what it was like to be a teacher. These memories stuck with me from the time I was a child until now. To be a great teacher you have to have great students, and to have great students you have to make great efforts. It is all one cycle we have to follow, but only the crazy ones push it as far as they possibly can to make sure they are making a difference. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Who I am.

One of my favorite quotes is “Don’t forget where you came from, but never lose sight of where you are going.” This quote can be interpreted in so many different ways and I think that is what drew me to it. In this instance I interpreted it as meaning, learn from your past but never lose hope of what lies in the future. Sometimes, you have to learn from your past in more ways than one, and sometimes you don’t even realize what you are learning until it reveals itself all at once.
When you lose a best friend that you had growing up, you think it is the worst thing in the world. You don’t see how someone you loved and trusted for so many years could just turn their back on you so easily. It hurts, and it hurts a lot. You think that nothing will ever get any easier, and for a while it doesn't.  You have to learn to live your life in a completely different way. One without someone in it that you went to for everything, all of the sudden you feel like you have no one to turn to.
Sometimes this lasts for only a couple weeks, but other times it will last years.
 I lost my best friend at the very beginning of my freshman year of college. Ever since then I have felt like I would never be as close to someone as I was with that girl. But then I began to look around me and I saw the changes that happened right before my eyes that I never noticed before. I have amazing people surrounding me and in my life. Some have been there always and some are brand new. But they are the type of people that I know will stick around forever.
I am a junior in college and I am just starting to feel like I have found my place. I remember wandering around all through high school and some elementary school even, and always thinking I am not particularly extraordinary at anything. I was good at a lot of things, but nothing ever struck my interest and made me think “I was BORN to do this.” Now that I am in college and into my degree classes, I had that epiphany the first week of school. I was born to be a teacher. I love being around kids and I love learning new things, but most importantly I love being able to show things from a different viewpoint. One many might not have thought about before. It was then that I realized your friends, your true friends, are the ones that not only share your interests but also the things you believe in. They believe in other things too of course, and so do you, but you share a common thread that links you together. You share a passion. And that passion is what will bring you close to each other.

So all of those who feel like you haven’t found your place in this world, and the ones who feel like you have no friends. Just wait, your time will come and it will all be worth it. Trust me, I know. To those people who have been in my life all along and never given up on me. Thank you. You made me the person I am today. To the people who are new in my life, thank you. I know our adventure together is just beginning and I cannot wait to see where it takes us on this beautiful journey called life.