National Teacher Appreciation week has filled my blog stream with all kinds of stories about teachers! Some stories have been about why they became teachers, others have been about what they learned from the teachers they had and some have been thanked the educators that have inspired them. Reading them made me smile. We don’t just touch our students but we have the chance everyday to impact and inspire future educators and each other…but these posts also got me thinking. I have never shared my story. I have never shared why I became a teacher. Here is my story.
. . .
I was so very proud to earn it. That neon orange vinyl belt that went over my shoulder, around my waist. It clipped in the front and held my silver badge. I was a patrol. My first job as a patrol was to hold the stop sign as kids crossed the street (of what I recall was a pretty busy road) then higher powers realized it probably wasn’t a good idea for a kid to do that and an adult replaced us. So then I was given bus duty. My job was to monitor students getting off the bus and make sure they went to their classes. One day that bus came. It was the bus with the students in the special education classes. They were students with significant disabilities (what I would now describe as significantly cognitively impaired and significantly autistic students). I was curious and than eager to help. So everyday I looked forward to an opportunity to assist with getting those students to and from the bus to their classroom (in a mobile classroom, not attached to our school, away from our school and in no way integrated…I know but it was how it was). Throughout the school year my eagerness to help quickly grew into a fondness, a curiosity and a desire to learn and do more with this teacher and her students. So when the school year ended I decided (I must have talked to the teacher about this all on my own. I don’t even remember how it all came together) I wanted to do more. That summer I came back to school everyday during those student’s summer school and helped. Each morning of those weeks I woke up early, got on my bike and rode it to my elementary school (yes, the ride was uphill and it was a heck of a hill). I remember watching her, studying her and falling in love with being a teacher that summer. It was in those moments of that summer that I knew I wanted to be a teacher.
It was that summer that I discovered what I was made to do.
Since that moment in the mobile classroom in between the school and the baseball fields the teacher I have become has also been touched by other fantastic and truly inspiring teachers along the way. From my cooperating teacher during my student teaching who taught me strategies and how to see the whole child. How to see the potential each student and how if we work hard enough every child can learn. To the associate principal who patiently gave me my first and most valuable lessons in behavior modification, point sheets, classroom structure and motivating students when all I could do was make it through that 9th period class without letting my students see me cry (The toughest group of kids I have ever had and an experience I cherish deeply even to this day). To the principal who gave me new life when she trusted, valued and respected my skills. And to the fellow educator who saved me from burnout and relit a passion that now burns even stronger and more passionately then if ever did before.
It all started with those moments in 5th grade.