I have been teaching for (pausing to count on my fingers) 17 years now. I know, I know, it is hard to believe since I look so very young. :) I did start a little on the young side since I graduated a bit earlier than most do. That is about all we need to say about that.
My first four years I taught in private schools, two years in Stuttgart, two in Sherwood, which is on the outskirts of Little Rock. I taught multi-age groups in the first couple of years, then first grade the next two. Since then I have taught kindergarten here. In fact, my first kindergarten class here is graduating this year.
I love what I do...most of the time. There are some parts of my job (like testing and paperwork) that I don't enjoy quite as much as the other parts (like teaching, watching children master new skills). This time of year is a little more challenging; the kids start getting spring fever. However, when people ask me how much longer we have until summer, I just shrug. I really have no idea. I don't really count down, I am usually surprised when it gets here.
I have been thinking alot about my students. I don't think a lot of my students will remember me much. After all, kindergarten is a long way away from adulthood. Think about how much changes in that time. I remember almost all of my teachers except for kindergarten (I do remember having multiple teachers and it was half day which probably doesn't help). My former students now first graders still wave wildly when I pass by. The fifth graders I once taught sometimes don't acknowledge me in the hallway. It makes me sad sometimes but it is just the way of life.
Though they don't remember me, I would say I remember most of my students. Some from my first few years are a little fuzzy, but otherwise, I remember most of them. And I wonder often how they are doing. I find myself scanning the newspaper, especially the sports section, to see if I recognize any names. Our local high school has a television station I occasionally watch to see if I recognize anyone. I have a few former students who have asked me to be their "friends" on Facebook, so I get to watch them as they finish up their school career. However, there are so many other students I have a feeling I will never truly know where they end up in life.
Whether I know or not, I do wish my students the best in life. I hope that something, anything I did might have helped them in their lives, somehow. Who knows, maybe, just maybe I taught them something along the way.
I do know that they teach me. They teach me daily. They teach me how to be a better teacher. They challenge me to meet their educational needs in a new and different way each year, that each of them is very different. They encourage me with their sweet words and adoration even on days I don't deserve it (those occasional grumpy days :). They show me that no matter what is going on in their lives, they can and will learn when given the right tools.
What I hope they take away from my classroom above anything else, even the skills of reading and writing, is that they are worth something in this world, that it is their responsibility and privilege to make our world a better place, and that even when I am not there, they have a teacher cheering for them in life and celebrating their successes as well as suffering through their disappointments.
Words from one teacher's heart...