Thursday, June 13, 2013

Congrats Grads!

"When people go through something rough in life, they say, 'I'm taking it one day at a time.' Yes, so is everybody. Because that's how time works." -Hannibal Buress

"When I was 5 years old my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life." -John Lennon

The hardest thing about teaching is that one year is not much time at all. And I hate goodbyes. They're hard, and they're sad. Yet the harder the goodbye, I suppose, the more you've gained from that relationship. For kids it's so simple--"Ms. Elson, can you be my teacher next year?"--and I wish it were so easy. Instead, I give the kid a hug goodbye, and hope that perhaps our paths will cross again.

Today, I graduated from UCD's teaching credential program. Graduation is yet another event that encourages reflection--and more goodbyes. I realized that I graduate three years TO THE DAY after I graduated from undergrad. What a happy coincidence! Three years went by so fast. And a lot happened in the last three years--I ran two marathons! I met new people! I became a teacher! I made a difference!

Reason #bazillion why working with kids is amazing: This poem was written by a 5th grader, whose class I was in for a mere 2 weeks. It really doesn't take long to make an impression.

I don't know if it's because I'm a glass-is-half-full kind of person, but I feel like I have been so lucky to have gotten to where I am today on the route that I took--I firmly believe that I could not have been happier at any other college than Carleton. I could not have had a more positive experience at any other site than my lovely St. Paul elementary school. And I could not have found a better fit in terms of grad school, than I did at UCD. Everything happens for a reason, right?

I am not one to believe in fate, or that there's some grand plan for my life, or anyone else's. That said, I think that stuff happens, and it's up to us to give it a reason. To make meaning out of the coincidences that make up life. For example, I did not just jump into a teaching after undergrad, but rather spent 2 years confirming my career goals (and having a blast, living in Minneapolis and working at a fantastic school!) I firmly believe without those years of experience, not only would I have been a horrendous student teacher, but that my particular class could have convinced a different me that teaching was not the right path, even though it could not be any clearer to me that education is my calling.

The takeaway message here is that life is what you make it--and everything happens for the reason that you give it. Life may not always go smoothly--in fact this year had me doubting my teaching abilities and included a lot of tears--but every event can be a learning experience. So here I am, ready to have my own classroom, along with seventy-some other amazing credential students who I am honored to have sat with at graduation.