Monday, June 29, 2015

Why I Teach (Part 1)

Let's start at the beginning...

When I started kindergarten I was an artist, an explorer, an actress, a singer, a creator...but by 2 grade I learned that those things didn't make me "smart".  I was never the first one to finish a timed test or in the top reading group, eventually I just stopped trying on those pesky timed tests, it was better not to try than to be one of the last ones finished.

In third grade the "smart" kids got to go to the "Gifted and Talented" program.  I remember thinking "What? I'm gifted and very talented...there must have been some mistake" didn't know then (and I'm not sure I know now) that talent and giftedness were measured by a test.  I was the daydreamer, the always drawing on the back of my paper, and doodling girl.  I was the kid waiting for that rare occasion when we would have a creative writing assignment...because those were the days I could shine!

Don't get me wrong I enjoyed elementary school.  I was in honor choir, had best friends, talked a little too much...and was even sent to the principal office once. I learned many things, I learned that I loved music, art, creative writing, social studies projects and science experiments (when we got to do them). I learned that worksheets were boring, and in my stubbornness I learned how to get away without doing them...I learned to just get by. I also learned that I was terrible at Math..I learned that I would never understand it...NEVER!

Those first years in elementary school set the stage for Jr High...where I discovered band, choir, and drama! Oh the joy!  Finally things I was good at!! I also came to Jr high with the knowledge that I was no good at math.  I had an amazing 7th grade teacher who tried to convince me otherwise, but I had already made up my mind. I wish I had listened to him...he was the last Math teacher who would try to convince me that I could do it.  I got by in my other classes, never trying too hard, because in my Jr high mind trying and failing would be the worst.

I was among the Drama and Choir elite in High School...scoring leads in musicals holding office in Drama Club. I knew what I was good at and worked to be the best! I liked my English classes...reading books, writing reports...these were things I could do. Math...No...Not good...Why Try!

During my Jr High and High School years I also spent a lot of time working with kids at church and day care jobs.  I loved kids, and I was good with them.  I was always the one who could come up with fun ways to keeps the kids busy and having fun.  I  knew I wanted to be a teacher so I started college as a music major.  In my first education class, we talked about why we wanted to be teachers, what teaching meant, how to make it meaningful, how to reach the unreachable kids, how to make all students feel like they were learners.  This professor was talking about students like me.  In that class I realized that I wasn't dumb, I wasn't stupid...I really was "gifted and talented" (all kids are).  I could have and should have learned and accomplished more.  

After taking that class I changed my major to "Early Childhood Education", because I knew that I could make a difference for students like myself.  Later I had a professor who said "most teachers become teachers because they love kids, and they loved school". I became a teacher because I love kids and because I didn't love the learning part of fact I hated work sheets and answering questions at the end of the capters.  I became a teacher because I wanted to be a different kind of teacher!

There have been times when I've told my story to people and they've said "I'm sorry you had that experience"...but I'm not sorry...I'm happy!! If I hadn't had those experiences I wouldn't be as sensitive as I am to my students, and  I wouldn't truly understand their frustrations.  I still remember hating when the teacher called me to the board to do a math problem, I still remember filling random numbers in on my timed tests, I still remember wishing for a writing assignment... 
I became a teacher so that I could teach all learners, and help them to realize the amazing potential within!!

(P.S.  I don't have a problem with gifted programs.  My own children have been in them...I know that they have a place in our schools...but I want all children to know that they are gifted...we're all gifted in different ways. Gifted programs tend to be more project based and engaging...I want to bring that to my own classroom!!)

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