Friday, August 1, 2014

Why Teachers are so GREAT! Gearing up for Back to School!

At the beginning of every school year I would oscillate between organizing my classroom stuff (arrange desks, pull out materials), and organizing my mental stuff (browse lesson plans and curriculum). There was also the emotional stuff. This was me last year - "OMG! We're in phase 4 of the Common Core curriculum full implementation plan, PARCC assessments coming up, new baby coming in 6 weeks, and 3 months of maternity leave sub-plans to make for the old program at one school, and a new program at the other school! Not to mention parent letters explaining all the new changes in gifted services delivery and the online grading system, now that we are grading with a 4-point scale as well as percents." Uh deep breath. Where do I start?

My administrators usually started the year with a pep talk and some PD about keeping the kids engaged. I would be inspired for about a day, and then realize that there is only so much time to plan on being fabulously inspirational, and I hope my 5th graders don't mind if they come back and see us doing many of the same routines. One administrator asked us to write ourselves a letter; what do we want to accomplish this year? What do we want to look back and see? What do we think our students want to experience from us? What are the most important things to focus on when the going gets tough? She asked us to write a letter of encouragement to ourselves and put it in a self-addressed envelope. Here's my letter to self...

Next week my colleagues will start classes, and hopefully have gotten their head on straight and feel prepared.  This year I will be home with babies; 3 1/2, and 1 yr in September. :) Staying home with them has been great, and I am still teaching every day; but I haven't fully detached from the classroom teacher experience. That's why I am so grateful that I can transfer my skills to working at home for a while.


1. We have a plethora of skills! - Academic content mastery, organization, communication, presentation, psychology, sociology, social management, emotional management (of self and others), marketing (yes, trying to get parents to come to Math Night or conferences), not to mention that some of us can be wildly creative and entertaining!

2. We care so much about other people! - Sincerely, no one would do all of this work for an average salary if they weren't loving the people they work for! Teaching has a lot of demands, but the rewards of building positive relationships with kids, families, and co-workers adds a depth of satisfaction that can't be bought. Teachers who stay with it know that they couldn't be in another line of work with the same rewards.

3. (Okay - I thought of one more) We are always open to learning new things! - How often have you had to brush up on material to switch grade levels, service delivery, standards, curriculum materials, or become familiar with the needs of a new student whether, maybe even learn a new language? For some of us, this happens every year! 

4. Finally, since all of these skills and virtues have been internalized, we take them where-ever we go! It's been exciting to venture into a new field of education-marketing and meet so many inspirational people who have turned their classroom skills into hundreds of thousands of dollars. I wasn't sure how I'd be able to work from home, or if I'd have the skills I need to do something different. I realized that TEACHING has given me the skills and character I need to pursue anything I feel inspired to.  

So, to all of you heading back to the classroom, GOOD JOB! I am proud of who you are, the work you do, and proud that I will always be one of you.

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