I woke up this morning to find this picture on my facebook memories:
This was taken on my first day, in my first classroom, where I was just starting to set up and decorate. I had just graduated from college a few months before and was a young 22 years old. (And, I was so tan!) My Mom must have come over to say "Hello" and snapped this picture. I am wondering why I look so tired when I hadn't even started yet...
Instantly thoughts popped into my head about that first year, and all the years of teaching and life since then. It literally has been a whirlwind. I wanted to take a minute and list a few things that have happened in just that 5 years.
5 years ago:
- I began teaching 3rd grade at Hawthorne Elementary in Idaho Falls.
- I bought my first car
- I lived in a little basement apartment with one roommate and had more fun than I can even recall.
- I went to Seattle to a Tech conference and it really opened up my eyes to a bigger teaching world.
- I met my husband in my parents back yard.
- I got engaged.
- I moved states to be where my future husbands job was.
- I began teaching 3rd grade at Farnsworth Elementary in West Valley, Utah.
- I got married.
- We made the choice to move back to Idaho.
- I finished out the school year and moved home the day school was done.
- We bought our first house.
- I began teaching 2nd grade at Iona elementary.
- We planted grass and decorated our new home.
- I had the best class I've ever taught with the happiest group of kiddos.
- We found out we were pregnant
- I began teaching for the Pathways program at BYU-Idaho.
- I began year 4 of teaching at the same school and same grade.
- I taught my identical twin nephews in my class and finally learned to tell them apart.
- I had a baby boy in December and went on maternity leave.
- I went back to work and finished the year driving back and forth between school and the sitters at lunch to feed and be with my son.
- I packed up my classroom.
1 year ago (this last year)
- I opened up and began teaching a preschool, "Little Owl Academy," from my home.
- We moved to have a better house for our growing family (I was pregnant again) and my preschool.
- I had a miscarriage
- I cut out lots and lots of art projects!
- We celebrated my sons first birthday.
- My brother-in-law unexpectedly passed away.
- We found out we were pregnant again.
- We moved to Utah, and bought another house, for my husband to help fill his brothers role at the family company,.
- And now I get to be a stay at home Mom and teach for the Pathways program online!
I list all of these things not to bore you, but to show you how much can really happen in 5 years. As I sat and thought about all of the things that have happened I realized, what can all happen in the lives of our students in just 5 years. Some of the things I have had to go through have been extremely happy, and some have been extremely sad and painful. How much do our students experience every day? What experiences are they bringing to school? How would this little tid bit of knowledge and idea that they can be experiencing so much make a difference? If I as an adult struggled during the hard times, how can our little ones handle it when they've never experienced hard times before? We need to be there to help them.
While I was teaching in West Valley I had a little student, Christopher, who I adored. A little way into the year he began showing up later and later to school every day. Being my immature teacher self I got frustrated and he got in trouble for being late. Finally after about a month of this (and I wish I had done it far sooner!) I sat down and asked him why he was late every day. It turns out, after talking with him and the social worker, his Mom was a druggy and had been up all night and by the morning when Christopher needed to go to school she was passed out on the couch. He spent his morning bathing and feeding his toddler sister before coming to school. He just wanted to make sure she had a good morning and was ready for the day.
How I wish that I had recognized that even the littlest ones can have huge emotional changes in their lives and paid just a little more attention.
Think back on your last 5 years, how much has happened, and how much has changed. Then think of your students. How can recognizing their changes, good and bad, make you a better teacher?
As I sat typing this I looked over and saw my son lining up his cars on the couch. He is learning and growing so much right now and changing every day. I just hope as his Mom and as a teacher that when he starts school in a few years that his teachers will recognize the individual needs of their students and take the time to get to know their concerns and joys.
I know I will be more mindful now that life does happen while school is going on, and as a teacher I can be loving and kind and there for my students through the ups and downs.