I knew as a child I wanted to be a teacher. I cannot explain it, it was just something in my heart from a very young age. I would line my dolls up and try to teach them. When I was in elementary school, my teachers would let me have their old textbook teacher manuals to play school with at home. And I did so, faithfully. I don't think anyone was surprised when I graduated and decided to major in elementary education. Now here it is, 18 years later, and I still can't imagine doing anything else.
I am not going to claim to be the world's greatest teacher. I don't have all of the answers and am not an expert at much of anything. In fact, I think I learn more every year than my students do. :) Having kids of my own, I can't and don't devote every second of my day to the classroom. Teaching does consume a lot of time and energy, but I do have a family that needs that time and energy too. I doubt many of my students will grow up and think, "Wow, my kindergarten teacher...she really changed my life." I do try to bring fun to learning but I am not a "stand out". I do not have an amazing voice, I am not wild and overly creative, I am not a stand up comedian. I am just one teacher out of many who loves what I do and who I do it for.
This time of year, it can be easy to be weary. We have all of the pushes and pulls of Christmas obligations, family obligations, social obligations, church obligations. And the students...well, they get a little on the energetic side as thoughts of Christmas wishes (and probably the sweet sugar of Christmas treats) consume their every thought. Meanwhile, my energy level goes down drastically as I stay up late trying to get something accomplished (often without much success). Yet even in the midst of all of that, I was reminded this past week just why I do what I do...here are a few reasons (of many).
- Where else but an elementary school could I have a pajama day (all day at school in my comfy and warm pj's and slippers) and a Christmas carol singalong assembly as we wind down the first semester?
- The sparkling eyes of my students as they used a variety of sprinkles, candies, and frostings to decorate their own gingerbread men...priceless.
- Assessing a student to find out that he/she had learned almost all letters and sounds in the last few weeks...took that child to the office to let the principal and office staff ooh and aah over him/her as tears rolled down my face. I wish I could take credit for the learning but all I provided were tools; the student did the rest!
- The students eager faces as they presented me with gifts (some chocolate, an ornament, a scarf, a shawl, a Christmas platter), waiting for me to open them up.
- Hearing from a student's mom that when asked what was going to happen that day, she didn't say "our Christmas party" but rather, "Yes, I get to eat lunch with my teacher!" (Purchased through a silent auction at our school fundraiser)
- Seeing our hallways lined with food, clothing, and toys to go to our families in need...all donated by faculty, students/families, and partners in education.
- Enjoying a faculty lunch provided by our wonderful PTA
- Crying together over fellow workers dealing with tough issues (I HATE CANCER)
- Visiting a co-worker who had surgery this week and watching her eyes light up as she opened cards and gifts from her students and co-workers
- Merrily waving goodbye to my students as we departed for our two week holiday break only to have one sweet child throw her arms around me and say sadly and firmly, "I am going to miss you, Mrs. Cloud!"
That is why I do what I do...