I was greatly honored -- and surprised -- to be voted "Teacher of the Year" at my school, and tomorrow I will go for the interview that is part of the process. So I've been thinking about representing my school and pondering the question -- why do I still look forward to going to work, even after all these years? What do I still find exciting about teaching?
I first started teaching in 1970 -- before many of my co- workers were even born. But when my first baby was born, I decided to stay home and be a full-time mom. It was a wonderful decision, and it was 27 years before I came back to teaching in a public school. So much has changed since my first job as a teacher in a little 3 room school! But, change can be good -- and I am grateful for the opportunity to come back to the classroom.
Many days are stressful and tiring, yet I love my job and consider myself blessed to have the chance to touch so many little lives. I love the hugs and notes that I receive from my sweet little ones. But more than that, I love being able to teach them to read and write! One mom told me that she cried the first time her son read to her. And I have felt emotional many times when someone wrote a sentence for the first time, or got excited about a new book or math station. It's pretty amazing to hear a child shout, "I can read!"
But two years ago I took a technology class at the Education Center that changed things for me. Keep in mind, I am not from this technology generation -- I used a typewriter when I was in college, and I need my son or daughter to program the VCR. But I took that class about blogging and a whole new world opened for me. I soon had a little blog of my own, and even a few followers. I used to have to go down the hall to show someone the great work one of my kinder kids had produced, but now I can snap a photo and show it around the world! But even better than that, I am able to collaborate and learn from some amazing teachers all across the country. I have purchased -- or received for free -- wonderful teaching materials to help me implement Common Core Standards in my classroom. I have been encouraged and entertained by other teachers who face some of the same challenges that I have experienced. I have been inspired to try new things and equipped to provide a better kindergarten experience for my children.
I learned about Whole Brain Teaching and clip charts and Dojo and Daily 5. All these have made a world of difference in classroom management. I got ideas for ways to encourage parent involvement through homework activities, a "Dads and Donuts" event, and a math night that brought out half my parents on a cold rainy night. I was introduced to some fabulous books, both to entertain and teach my children and to educate me. Our class was able to participate in a gingerbread exchange with 25 other classrooms all over the country -- we even traded one with a class in Germany.
One of the biggest influences in my class has been from Heidisongs and Heidi Butkus, a teacher in California who writes songs that I use in my classroom every day. She taught me about multi-sensory learning -- that children will retain more when they see it, say it, hear it, and do it all at once. Through her DVDs, my children have learned many more sight words to enrich the Letterland curriculum that I teach every day. One of my students even drew Heidi's picture and wrote about her in a creative writing assignment this week.
Blogging gives me a place to reflect on my own teaching. Rather than tossing and turning on sleepless nights, I get up and write about what worked and what didn't. And I can go back to see what I was writing about last year -- that has helped me remember lessons that I had forgotten.
I heard another teacher today say that she told her daughter NOT to be a teacher -- and I understand her frustration -- but I still think teaching is a wonderful, rewarding career and I can't think of anything I would rather do. I am still excited about trying new ideas to reach my little learners -- and I still do the dance of joy when they learn new sight words or write a cool story or make a great connection. I love my job.