Tomorrow (August 8th) begins my nineteenth year working in secondary education. That is hard for me to believe! I began as a substitute teacher and bus driver the first year and was asked to accept a permanent position as an Enrichment Aide the next year. I taught Spanish to sixth and eighth graders and Math Explore to fourth and fifth graders.
When I began teaching, I had no idea how to be a teacher. I had been a student. I had even been a teacher for a two-month span while the regular Spanish teacher recovered from an automobile accident. But I had no real idea what being a teacher was or what it entailed. Boy, was I in for a shock! Let me just say, if any of my students learned anything that first year, I’d be very surprised. If you were one of them– I apologize sincerely for my lack of everything!
Looking back at my many failures has caused me to aspire to make this year the best yet. I have decided that I am going to work hard to ensure that my classroom includes learning of all types. I have prayed for the Holy Spirit to fill me, so I can use His strength when I grow tired and forgetful of my aspirations. When it becomes easier to bark a sarcastic retort to the student who answers my request with a snarky comment rather than with respectful compliance. I feel God’s call to adapt my style of classroom management to this more mature, more loving, though stricter, version. I am praying for HIs help and covet your prayers as well.
I am a firm believer that not all learning is content related. Life can be learned in a classroom. Lives can be influenced for the better. Students can take steps toward a positive future, find lost hope, and begin to dream for more than they thought previously attainable.
Yes, I want to teach students to speak, read, and write in Spanish. I want them to learn the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries. I want to engage them with new ideas and challenge them with new concepts. But more than that, I want to be a positive role model. I want to really see my students – not their clothes, or their last names, or their siblings or parents – but them. What makes them who they are? What makes them smile and what makes them frown? When do they feel afraid and when do they feel confident? How do they learn best and what can I do to help them in their journey toward competence and mastery?
This year, positive relationships, enthusiasm, and engagement with my students and the content are my focus. I refuse to turn blind eyes to the little bullying comments or intimidation tactics that take place within my classroom. If something is affecting the positive learning environment, then I need to deal with it. Not with anger, or accusations, but with love and patience and care. This doesn’t mean I plan to go easy on them when it comes to learning. I have high expectations, but with hard work and positive support, I believe each one will succeed.
Because I do care about my students – all of them. Now, my job is to make them understand just how much and what that care can mean for them. Tomorrow, I plan to step boldly (thank you, Jessica Townsend) into the school year with compassion for each young human being who steps through my door.