Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why I Teach

While browsing the internet, I came across several journal articles entitled, "Why I Teach."
I thought this would be a great way to reflect on why I do what I do each day. So, here are some of my reasons for why I teach!

1.  Students notice if you have new shoes or a new haircut, or they ask you what you did over the weekend.  It makes me feel loved when they take notice of the littlest things you have done.

2.  The expression on a student's face when it shows they finally understand a complicated task.  It makes me realize that patience and perseverance are gifts to be shared often with students.

3.  Sometimes students come into my room and ask me to help them find a good book to read. They have trusted me enough to help them enhance their imagination and they value my opinion.

4.  When I meet my colleagues in the hall and we spend a minute chatting or laughing.  A kind word or a chuckle can be the moment that gets me through a trying day.

5.  After students have gone on to high school and some of them come back to visit my classroom during the first month of school. I know they come back to experience a moment of safety and recognize an old familiar face; they often feel a little lost in high school at the beginning of the school year.

6.  Parents who email, call, or visit  about their child's struggles and successes.  I appreciate their insight and partnership to do what is best for their child's educational experience.

7.  I like it when students share their personal stories with me: their pet cat, a television show they watched, how they did at an athletic event, or even what they had for supper the previous night.  When they do this, they trust me. Even though it may be the 14th time I have heard the same cat story, I can still appreciate their honesty and youthfulness.

8.  Collaborating with other educators in the building excites my brain, whether it be planning a long-term genre unit, sharing professional articles with each other, or talking about student concerns. I learn from other teachers' insights.

9.  I spend an adequate amount of time reading professional texts and books, teaching and taking classes, and stretching myself professionally. I believe you don't truly grow if you don't step out of your comfort zone.  If I continue to ask my students to learn, I must lead by example.

10.  Watching kids learn material that will make them successful in their current grade, the next grade, and in years to come is the ultimate goal of any educator.

And lastly, I like going to bed each night, hoping and knowing that somewhere I made a small difference with someone throughout the day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Fine Arts and Bullying

This past weekend I went our high school's musical performance. While the majority of the cast was female, there were several males who played important roles in the production.  As a sat in the audience, I glanced around the auditorium and was happy to see many other high school students show their support of the school's musical production and of their classmates. Across the aisle from me were several students I was surprised to see in attendance. They rarely came to support their fellow classmates in athletic or fine arts events.

About a third of the way through the production when a male cast member came on stage for the first time, this row of four students made a loud, verbal acknowledgement of his presence. And then I saw a phone come out of one student's pocket and begin to find the perfect angle for a picture. My mind swirled of what the he was going to do with the instant photo. I made eye contact with the student and he put his phone down without snapping a picture, but several times through out the production, he tried to sneak his phone out. Again, this action received aisle glares from me. He was unsuccessful during all his attempts. At intermission, several audience members asked who the students were and complained of their behaviors. Another teacher informed administration of their behaviors and they were monitored throughout the second act, until they became frustrated with the constant supervision of their behaviors and left the performance.

As I sat there and thought about the situation, it made me even more proud of the students on stage who set their anxieties, nerves, and fears aside to find the courage to perform in front of two hundred community members.  The amount of time and dedication they put forth to achieving a successful show, was admirable.  However, these other students who chose to pay money for admission, sit in the back row and in hope to poke fun of another student because he chose to participate in a school activity, angered me. I wanted to ask the students, if they felt they were so much better than the other students on stage, why hadn't they had enough courage to try out, be on stage and share their talents with others.  I already knew the answer though. They were cowards.... just like all the other bullies of the world.  And cowards never achieve much in life because they are always too busy putting other people down instead of working to reach their own life goals.