Putting teaching into perspective
I am currently in full swing in my second year teaching the Special Day Class at Prestwood Elementary School. So much of my perspective on teaching has remained the same since last school year and, simultaneously, new ideas of mine have begun to develop.
I think that for anybody out there, beginning a new job can be intimidating, challenging, yet fulfilling. That is how I viewed last year. This year, it’s nice knowing that I don’t have to ask my colleagues or principal a million questions (just a hundred now) or learn the ins and outs of teaching such a challenging class.
Some other parts of teaching feel just the same this year as they did last year. The hustle and bustle of the kids on campus remains abundant, the friendly staff is just as nice, my aide – Suzanne Bolli – is just as fabulous, and the day-to-day feeling of knowing that the teachers at our school care about our children continues.
Some things aren’t as similar as last year, like the unfortunate furlough days, and the cut in hours of our fabulous library.
Even though it is my second year teaching the Special Day Class at Prestwood (and my fourth total, including teaching in Hawaii), I have come to realize that regardless of what school district a teacher may teach, or what class a teacher may have, that the overall basic theme doesn’t change: teachers work extremely hard to ensure that students flourish.
My students aren’t quite the same either. Yes, five of my originals from last year are again my students, yet I knew that things had changed while seeing them on the very first day as taller, brighter, and older kids. I have new students now too. At first, my older students looked at the new students, wondering why they were there. My fifth graders knew that a few of their classmates from last year went on to middle school, but I don’t think they put much thought into who would come in and join our class. But, I told them change is good.
So far, time with the kids has shown that they are all growing and developing different ideas, more so than they did last year. It’s a neat journey to be a part of and witness.
During the first week of school, I did something new that I’ve never done as a teacher before. I was blown away by how tall my students looked on the first day. It had been less than three months since I had seen them, yet they sure did grow over the summer. I decided to measure them on the wall, to show them how tall they would start out on day one, and how much they would grow by the last day. They loved being measured. They enjoyed comparing each other’s height and thought it was crazy that the girls were taller than some boys.
I told them that I would measure them each month to see the growth. So far, after the second measurement, one of my new third-graders grew an inch in just one month, and all the kids squealed with delight and amazement when they saw this.
This school year, I also show my students their measurement, but in the growth of their academics, not only their height. I can already see a huge change in how fast they read, and how quickly they can pick up a math concept since last year, which is pretty fascinating. I often tell them how much speedier they have become, and how proud I am of them.
Most teachers don’t get the same students two years in a row, so for me, I feel lucky knowing that by the end of this school year, I will have been able to have taught students for two grade levels of their elementary education. It’s a pretty special honor.
Each day, I still commute by beautiful rolling vineyards, and still see the hot-air balloons hovering in the sky as I head to work. But now, when I pull up to the parking lot in the mornings, I realize that this year isn’t the same as last, and that is both good, and bittersweet to me.