2016,  Guest Post

Guest Post – Thanks for More Than Just A Week

We all remember our favorite teacher?

No matter the grade, we all have one. We love them for how they made teaching fun, how they made us feel, and how class never felt like class. Today, we get a little perspective from the other side. Slowly but surely, the Guest Posts have been trickling in. When a friend sends me one unexpectedly, I get super excited. I absolutely adore reading what my friends have to say, as I’m sure you get tired of reading my nonsense. Another perspective and voice brought to the blog, I couldn’t be happier!If you’d like to read the others, here are the links:

You’ve read about her here before, The Teacher. She’s probably my second longest friend, we met playing soccer before we actually started attending the same school. High School that is. We played recreational soccer together, go BAC, when we were in elementary school. Larisa, her given name, is another one of those friends who has become family, as well as her family too. Our friendship started with soccer but blossomed into something as we’ve grown older. From our on-going movie dates to our mutual love for Leatherby’s caramel, we get along just fine. I’m even blessed to say she asked me to be a part of one of the biggest days in her life — her wedding. I get to stand up there and watch her marry the man of her dreams. She deserves that and so much more. She is more than a fiancé and friend, she is a teacher to what I would say are underprivileged kids and she has been her whole career. She amazes me with her dedication to the education system and her students, I would love for her to teach my child(ren) someday. Last week was Teacher Appreciation week and it sparked something in her to write, so that is what she did…and now you can enjoy it!
Just out there celebrating the Teacher’s bday under a tree 😉
Teacher Appreciation
It’s ironic that I chose to write this guest blog on the Friday night of Teacher Appreciation Week, but this week a colleague of mine experienced an incident that left me feeling unbelievably discouraged, frustrated and under-appreciated.
It’s just hard for me to understand how some people don’t value teachers and/or education.  I don’t like when people say, “Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, teach.”  Not everyone can be a teacher and it’s not an easy job to take on.
There are many different aspects that teachers dedicate to their job, not just mundane teaching for 6 hours every day.  There are also the emotional, mental and physical parts. There are many other components of teaching that are necessary to ensure success in a classroom community.
Yes, community.  You can’t successfully teach a child until they feel that they are safe, valuable and a contributing member of the classroom.  That takes a lot of work.  Teachers don’t and can’t just start the first day of school with math, reading, and writing.  Before any learning occurs, your students must trust you and see you as their guide.  This takes a lot of patience, procedures, repetition and again, PATIENCE.  Throw in some additional challenging behaviors, and it becomes that more difficult to maintain empathy and a sense of community. It takes a lot of experience, role modeling, and strategy.
Yes, strategy.  One of the biggest tools in a teacher’s toolbox.  What do I mean by strategy?  A LOT!  Let’s start with the classroom seating chart.  You have to be able to identify which students can sit by each other and the ones who can’t.  You have to plan your schedule so that students aren’t sitting too long.  You have to use strategy when figuring out the best way to tell a parent that their child is struggling academically.  Last, but not least, you have to strategize when managing a challenging, non-compliant student…“If I say this, how is he going to respond?  Is it worth the battle?”
You even have to strategize when maintaining a sense of balance in your work and personal life.  Many of you know that teachers keep working after hours.  We keep a lot of what our student’s experience in our heads at all times.  We bring it home.  We think about what we could have done differently in handling a testing situation.  Then we worry that we’re bringing too much home and neglecting our own personal lives.
As I write this, I fear that it’s heading way too much into a negative direction.  So let me now steer away from the challenges and struggles in teaching and share some of the positives that occur.  Here is a small sample of what keeps me going.
This year, I’m teaching a 1st/2nd-grade split class.  As challenging as a split class can be, it has also been rewarding having some of my students two years in a row (I had them as 1st graders last year).  It’s amazing to see that someone who was struggling with reading last year, is “getting” it this year and becoming more confident.  It’s gratifying to see that a 2nd-grade student who had some challenging behaviors last year has now become a constant, helpful, positive role model in our classroom.  It’s nice to see that a 1st-grade student who had difficulty keeping her hands and feet to herself earlier this year has almost turned into a classroom “mother”, constantly taking care of her classmates.  It’s incredibly impressive to see that a student will help another student get back on task and the other student actually listens and doesn’t make some snide remark about them telling them what to do.  Finally, it’s amazing to see what 1st and 2nd-grade writers are capable of by the end of the school year.
In closing, thank you for reading this.  Writing this has helped me feel a lot better about this tough week.  I also hope it helps to show a small example of what teachers do and experience daily.
I loved how she broke it down and explained ‘teaching’ in more detail than I’ve ever heard anyone explain the topic. Granted, I’m a Business major, so this is nowhere near my forte. But, I love to be able to think that although we are in different fields, we use the same techniques for different outcomes — strategy. It’s a cool concept to see how you can connect with someone else, in a way you’ve never thought of before. Since J is in the same field, I hear daily how hard this environment can be, more so than I hear how rewarding it is. I applaud them for being those people for those students because it seems like the students don’t have as much as saying you or I did when we were that age. I’m glad she can still see the good, while also dealing with the struggle. I’m also glad she highlights a lot of the unseen that teachers endure, contemplate, and deal with on a daily basis. I’m grateful to those that choose education as their profession because it does take a special type of person to teach little humans daily!
Teaching ain’t for the lighthearted, that’s for sure…

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