This is going to be different from my usual "This is what we did this week" post. First of all, I was at our Illinois State Kindergarten conference this Thursday and Friday and between preparing for a sub and being absent from my class, I did not have a lot of time to take pictures. This makes me a little sad because I am a visual person and so not having pictures to post here bothers me a little. But, I hope to get some pictures taken when I return to school on Monday and hopefully I will get some visuals here soon! (Credits for the visual found above are listed at the end of this post!)
So...... my trip to the Kindergarten conference showed me a few things, with Number One being, validation that what we are presently doing in our own kindergarten is Spot On! Yay! It also started me to muse about my 17 years of teaching kindergarten and 7 years of teaching second grade which got me thinking about what I have learned in my almost 25 years of teaching..... (If you give a teacher some time to think, she will........ !)
Here are my random thoughts:
1. Kids keep us young. Their energy and delight in life are the nectar we need to keep ourselves vibrant and energetic. Instead of getting upset at them because they cannot sit still, capture that energy and make it yours!
2. Our curriculum should always be fluid. Just because something worked 10 years ago does not mean that it will work now. Flexibility is the key to being a good teacher vs being a great teacher. Rigidity does not make a great teacher. Just because it is written in your plan book does not mean that it is the right thing to do at a particular moment in time.
3. Ride the ebb and flow of the educational tide. Looking back over these almost 25 years, I have seen great ideas and disastrous ideas. The great thing about education is that for the most part if something does not work, we can throw it out. When I have student teachers in my classroom, my biggest piece of advice is to NOT continue with a lesson if it is obvious that it is not working. I do wish that our state and national educational leaders would listen to this piece of advice....... sometimes I wonder what they are thinking with some of the mandates that come from above!
4. So many children come to school shouldering burdens that are just too heavy for them to carry. Divorce, hunger, abuse, neglect..... all these things affect our little ones. Because of this, it is so important that WE, their teachers, do not add to their burden. Smiles, hugs, understanding, hope, and patience are virtues that we should add to their life suitcases daily. Many times, teachers are the only people in their lives who give them any comfort at all. Becoming frustrated with children who carry this life baggage does not help either you or the child. It is amazing what a smile and patience can do for a child!
5. I truly believe that we are the most giving profession in the world. Teachers share. Teachers cooperate. Teachers help. How many business professionals do you know that share a new idea with someone they do not even know just for the sake of sharing? I do not think that Nike would share a new idea with Addidas just for the sake of bettering the fit of shoes for athletes. But this is what teachers do EVERY DAY! We share what we have learned. We share our triumphs with our students. We share a funny word. We coach. We tutor after school. We work through our (very short) lunch period. We use money from our own paychecks to purchase classroom items that our schools do not purchase for us. We weep at a tragedy that has happened to children that we have never met. We jump to help a teacher or a student who is suffering physical or emotional pain. So many teachers do this with no thought of compensation or glory.
6. Are we perfect? No, sadly we are not. Every time I hear of a teacher who has been found abusing a child or not living up to the standards that our profession demands, I become sad. We are in charge of the LIVES of the young people who trust us and when that trust is violated, it hurts every teacher in our nation. Fortunately for our students, most teachers DO take their job seriously and put their students first. Just look at the brave teachers who lost their lives in Sandy Hook Elementary School. Those teachers are the ones that make us proud to say "I am a teacher!"
7. I have found that humor is THE most important trait to keep with you. Laugh at yourself. If you make a mistake, accept and correct it. I cannot even imagine how drab and boring a classroom would be without hearing the laughter of children. Children are not perfect. Teachers are not perfect. Life is not perfect. Mistakes happen. Accept them and make a change. Being silly with your children is not a flaw; it's a treasure!
9. Make sure that some kind of physical exercise remains a part of your life; even walking around the neighborhood! Lucky for us that our job is not one that makes us sit behind a desk all day! I have learned, though, that physical exercise helps remove the stress and tensions of the day despite the fact that I hardly have time to sit down during the school day! Even 30 minutes a day helps relieve emotional and physical stress!
10. Finally, count your blessings. Sometimes we forget to do this...... family, health, freedom...... My faith in God keeps me going even when things seem to be at their worst.... I am so thankful that I was given the talent to be a teacher! Despite my almost 25 years in education, I am still excited to get up in the morning and go to work! I love my profession and eagerly look forward to the challenges that will come my way in the next years!
Until next time! Blessings, Cindy
PS - I would love to hear your comments about what YOU think about when you have some time!!
The cute graphic above is from Dj Inkers and From the Pond! The cute font is from Cara Carroll! Thank you!