Friday, April 27, 2012

The One About Teaching

I don't often write about my job on this blog but, since Teacher Appreciation Week is approaching, I thought now would be a great time to mention some thoughts I have on teaching and some things that surprised me about being a teacher.

First, I am surprised to say that I feel so LUCKY to have the job I have! I love my school, my students and everyone I work with! Not many people can say that.

Why am I so surprised? When I first got my credential, I thought for sure I was a future Kindergarten or 2nd grade teacher. Those little guys are so cute! And I knew my soft, sweet style would suit their needs. After a couple years working in elementary, I confirmed one thing: I absolutely was NOT made for and DID NOT want to teach middle school!

But God had a different plan...

When full-time job-time came around, positions were scarce and elementary schools weren't calling - middle schools were. In fact, I ignored 2-3 middle school calls before I finally answered the phone. That last phone call was from the school I work at now. In middle school I was worried that this would have to be my motto:
But the truth is - middle schoolers aren't scary. They are actually pretty cool. {Shhh, don't tell them I said that!} ;-) After one year teaching middle school I knew one thing -- I was made for and loved middle school! My style, my management, my jokes -- all made for middle school. Who knew? {Well, my Master Teachers would say THEY knew.} ;-)

I'm now a middle school English teacher.
I was also surprised how challenged I would be every day - in the best ways! In my class we get to have amazing discussions, be sarcastic {sometimes}, work hard, be real, learn about each other and life, challenge ourselves and have fun {sometimes} :)

 Some signs I use around my classroom to motivate my students {and myself} are:

{All of these quotes I downloaded from this awesome website!}

And every day I want my students to feel like this:

{ShabbyBlog button}

But teaching isn't always fun posters and cute classrooms. It's a lot of real life.
And sometimes I feel like this:

but I always want to remember this philosophy:

I really like this poster. We just can't expect every student to fit in the same little box. And it is a challenge every day to figure out just how to make each kid shine. It is equally hard to see a smart student make bad choices. Or a struggling student think they're not capable. It is hard sometimes to find the right words to say to build them up, since those words are different for every child. But we try. Being a parent, I hope, has made me a better teacher. When a student has a bad day, I think, 'how would I want a teacher to react if this was my  son or daughter?" and I respond that way.

I was also surprised at the variety of issues I would have to 
handle - including more than just the problems 
of not finishing homework or not doing well on the test.

Some of my students come into my classroom with A LOT of real life happening and a lot of REAL problems...

Like the student who stayed after class every day to ask questions and talk, only to eventually share that their mother was just given months to live. And sharing in tears when we found out she passed away...

Like the student who got good grades and came to class with a smile on their face every day
and yet, inside, their body was fighting cancer...

Like the "must place" student who had to be assigned to our class, even if the classroom was full, because they were homeless...

I have witnessed some amazing teachers throughout 
my 9 years in the classroom.

Teachers who have picked up elementary students to take them to school in the rain, because they knew those students walked and if it rained they wouldn't be able to come to school.

Teachers who work through every one of their breaks and lunch to help struggling students.
Teachers who bought morning snacks every day for a student
because they knew they didn't eat breakfast. 

Teachers who paid the field trip fee out of their own pocket for students they knew couldn't afford it.

I am humbled every day to know that teachers like this exist. 

In May, my students will take a national test that CA state and my district will use to measure whether or not they were successful in my classroom this year. I know that most of my students will do pretty well on the test and I'm excited to see the results.

However, I also know that success 
can't always be measured by a test.

And that, for some students, a successful year means they found a place to live.

A successful year means they made it through their first school year without their mother.

A successful year means they beat cancer.

No test can measure or replace that level of success.

And no credential program can prepare you for that kind of support.
It has to be in you, or grow in you. And I am blessed to be surround by teachers that inspire me to be this kind of better, every single day.

As you read this post, I hope it made you think of a teacher you had or your children have that you can appreciate. And when Teacher Appreciation Week rolls around, I hope you take the time to say
"Thank You!"

12.14.2012: Nothing could have prepared us for December 14th. As a parent and a teacher, our world was shaken. This year in Sandy Hook, having a successful year takes on a whole new meaning. I would like to take the time on this post to remember the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School, it's children and the amazing teachers who gave their lives in the protection of their students. God Bless. xo

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13 NIV)

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week 
to all the amazing teachers out there. xo

 “If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.” (Romans 12:7 NLT)

Linking up here; The Foley Fam; Tidy Mom and tatertots and jello


LillysNLollipops said...

Great post!! I think Teachers are so under appreciated. You guys work hard, I love the passion you have for your job, and it's teachers like you that kids will remember forever!

Four Marrs and One Venus said...

Nailed it. I Laughed at the {shhh don't tell them I said that} Part! Too funny! I loved this Post, and am so thankful for all the Teachers out there who put everything into their job! Teaching is a tough job, but what I love about you and how you pick out all the amazing things you have learned on the way and the joys you have shared with your students! Amazing post written by an amazing teacher! Way to go! I love all your little sayings in this post, so so true! :) "Thank You" -Love, Jen

Anonymous said...

When I clicked on the link I thought I was going to get ideas on what teachers might really want....Not Tears, LOL loved it thanks for sharing...I like your signs too..

Gallamore West said...

Awww, such a great post Reannah!!! I love seeing you love middle school, since I too thought you were destined for Elementary. Your students are blessed to have you.
Laurie :)

Sara said...

In college I thought high school teaching was my calling but quickly found out that middle school is where I belong. I love teaching 6th grade social studies everyday (also taught 8th) this post summed up many of feelings as well, really well said!

Reannah @ {Shaped by Grace} said...

Thank you so much!! :) xo, Reannah

Brie Holtrop said...

Crazy! I didn't even know it was teacher appreciation week - I missed it! lol Oh well.

I also thought I wanted to teach elementary school...and I ended up in high school special education. Also, I wouldn't change it for anything. I love it!!!

New follower :) Excited to being hearing more from you!!

Brie @ BreezyPinkDaisies

Chase the Star said...

Reannah, I totally love this post! Wow you are amazing for choosing this profession! Newest follower, and secretly hoping my kid ends up at your middle school!
Barbara @ Chase the Star

Katie said...

i just replied to your comment and said I'd be scared of eighth graders - funny that was in your post too! i love the signs you have in your room too - sounds like you are a teacher that is having a big impact on your kids!

Kyetra said...

Just stopping by from the blog hop. I am your newest follower. ;0

Life,Twins,DramaQueen said...

New follower from the blog hop please come follow me back :)

Hubba said...

Wow I love it thanks for sharing this great post. I'm a new follower and would love if you followed me back!

Ugochi said...

Reannah I love to teach children too, I taught at one time and enjoyed it. You sound like a pretty cool and fun teacher, well done!
Following you at LINKY, and joined your site too!
God's grace and speed!

Melissa Noble said...

Reannah- That was so well said! I had tears in my eyes. You have manaaged to say what so many teachers feel and have done so in such a beautiful way. I love the part about fitting kids into a box and measuring thier success simply by a test. I hope that this blog gets read by many, especially those who always have strong feelings about our education system, yet have never set foot in a classroom with the kind of teacher you have described. I know that our system has its fair share of bad apples, but most of us work hard for our students because we love them so much! Let's face it, we aren't in it for the money. LOL- Great job Re. Your students are so lucky to have you!

Tonia L said...

Your post made me cry Reannah! All I can way is thank you!!! You much be a fantastic teacher. I can't imagine what the world would be like if all kids could have teachers as special as you!! I seriously think it would completely change the world!

Steve K said...

I hope my daughter gets a teacher with your heart, passion, compassion, humor, faith and sense of self when she gets to middle school!

Reannah @ {Shaped by Grace} said...

Wow. Thank you so much for your encouraging comment Steve! I'll pray your daughter gets a great teacher in middle school! xo, Reannah

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