To top off my back to school 4 part Curriculum series of How TO Build An Amazing Science Program At Your School, I though I would end with a story from my teacher heart.
Here’s a look at my young self in our school pics my first year of teaching.
My first year teaching, is an experience I will never forget. I learned how to conduct morning meetings with a group of ten year olds. I learned that these said ten year olds catch on very quickly to repeated idle threats. I learned how anxious a little ten year old heart can be about taking a test at the end of the year. And above all, I learned how much a teacher matters in the hearts and lives of each one of those kiddos.
I was hired in December to take over a 5th grade classroom. The previous teacher started the year out with her kiddos and then left abruptly in October. Just barely over a month into the school year, she decided over the weekend that she wouldn’t return. I don’t know why she left, but I do know what she left.
I came into the school to meet the staff and work around my new classroom the week before Christmas break. The sub was still teaching, and I was being prepped for the first teaching job of my career. I nervously watched as the class interacted with the sub. They smiled big, adorable smiles every time they looked over at me. The school’s reading specialist had been watching over the instruction of this class for the past couple months, and she showed me everything they had been working on and everything they would need to do to finish out the school year. She went over the district procedures for lesson planning, standardized test prep, and data collection. I had three months to get these kiddos ready for their reading and science state tests. It was all a little intimidating for me to take on a week before my college graduation, but I knew it was where I was meant to be. I couldn’t wait to get to know my new kiddos, and use all the best practices and instructional strategies I had been learning in college.
When we got back to school after Christmas break, I officially took over that fifth grade classroom. Each student beamed at me when I was introduced as their new teacher. Their excitement and anticipation was contagious. Over the next couple weeks, I was sent across town to district training sessions that caught me up on what the other teachers had sat through over the summer.
That was when I realized how much a teacher matters in the eyes of each of those kiddos. Kids have families at home and come to school to spend a little time with their teachers and classmates, before going back home to their families. They see teachers as a person in a classroom that tells them what to do. That’s what I thought anyways. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Each time I told my class that I would be at a training center the next day, I saw anxiety visibly raising inside those little ten year old bodies. They had barely gotten to know me, and already they were anxious to see me leave. I constantly had these sweet kiddos voicing their worries to me. “Will you come back to us?” “Will you be gone a long time?” “Please don’t leave us.”
My heart quickly filled, and grew, for these sweet little spirits in my 5th grade classroom. They already had separation anxiety. The person who they expected and trusted to love on them and guide them through their fifth grade year had left them and not come back. That hurt those kiddos deeper that I ever would have thought. My heart was broken for those little hearts, and I made it my goal to show them how much I loved them and wasn’t leaving them.
As the weeks and months went on, their anxieties faded. They felt like they had a secure reliable environment again. Those kiddos bloomed the whole year, and it was just caring that did it. I cared for those kids and encouraged them to be successful. I was a first year teacher, so my experience level isn’t what brought them to where they needed to be by the end of the year. It was my heart for those kids that lead to their security and success.
That teacher who left those fifth graders before I got there probably had no idea how much she meant to those kids. She may not have seen it while she was there, but I saw it when she left.
So, if you don’t think that a teacher is a meaningful figure that greatly impacts the lives of each and every student in their class, you need to rethink your perspective. Teachers matter even when they don’t realize it.
I hope you all have an amazing year this year and feel appreciated!