Friday, February 14, 2014

This is Why I Teach

"There are lives I can imagine without children but none of them have the same laughter and noise." -Brian Andreas

"Children make your life important". -Erma Bombeck

There are a lot of small moments in teaching that remind me why I teach. I feel like I complain and vent a lot about my experience--it's easier to think of what's not going well, and my perceived failures. I don't feel like a successful teacher a lot. It's good to remind myself of things I actually get right.

Our current theme is "Words and Roads Take Us Places." It's about communication and transportation. How fitting then, that I got a letter this week from one of my students from last year. If there's one thing I know my second graders last year learned, was how to write a friendly letter. Every week they would write a letter to my resident teacher or me in a journal, and we would write back. It was such a great way to build a relationship with the students, and allow students to write and grow at their own pace (woo differentiation!)

My masters inquiry is about emergent writing. Research backs up the need for writing to be meaningful and authentic in order to engage students and promote growth, and I realize that those friendly letter journals were perfect. Letters were tangible, and they got something in return. The more they put in, the more they got back. Three of my students wrote letters this year and gave them to my resident teacher, and she passed them along to me. I returned the favor, and my resident teacher gave those students an addressed, stamped envelope so that they could mail their letters this time.

I LOVE snail mail, and if there's anything that's better than getting mail, it's getting a handwritten letter from a student. I haven't had the opportunity to visit them this year, because I have yet to have a day off when they don't, but the second I do (spring break, I believe), you can bet I'll be visiting. That my students remember me--the student teacher--and think highly enough of me to write a letter a year later, means the world to me. It reinforces the notion that what I'm doing makes a difference, and makes an impact.

Finally, Happy Valentine's Day! There is no better profession to be in than teaching when it comes to Valentine's Day, because you are never without a Valentine, or 30. 

A rose can say "I love you",
orchids can enthrall,
but a weed bouquet in a chubby fist,
yes, that says it all.

-Author Unknown

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