Sunday’s blog post focused on my thankfulness in the realm of my life at church, so it seems fitting that today’s post would focus on my school arena.
For 24 years, I’ve had the privilege of teaching a class full of third graders. Some years have been challenging in the area of classroom management. Other years the emotional and differentiating needs have been exhausting. Still others have been taxing by the “other stuff” involved in being a teacher. Yet, regardless of which of those I find myself facing, I enjoy the students planted in my classroom. We share laughter and sometimes tears. We have celebrated successes while overcoming challenges. We have cheered each other and confronted areas in which all of us need to improve. Yes, I’m quite thankful for my 24 classes of third graders.
I share this journey with many educators. There have been some whom I’ve planned with and others with whom I’ve led clubs, but all of them have impacted me in some way. I’ve been appreciative of the experienced teachers who’ve guided me when I was a newby and welcomed the young teachers who have seen me as “the Old Wise One”. We’ve shared inside jokes and personal struggles. We’ve dressed up in crazy costumes and cheered in the bleachers of our students’ games. I’ve witnessed weddings of three of them, held the newborn baby of one, attended funeral visitations of the parents, siblings, and sadly a child of some people I hold dear. We are family.
Over the 24 years, many ladies and a couple of gentlemen have joined my classroom as an aide for a part of my day. I’ve been blessed with people I work well with and who truly care about my kiddos. Some have been parents of former students, some have become friends because of it, a few were friends beforehand. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to teach one.
Speaking of this village, we have five “aides” that are teachers. What does that mean? It means cutbacks in funding caused us to lose licensed teaching positions in four of our special classes. In order to still provide those opportunities to our kiddos, the corporation found five of the most wonderful ladies to bridge the gap. Honestly, they do the work of a teacher without the pay or benefits of the title. The only thing, to my knowledge, that they’re not required to do is give grades. They get evaluated…just like a teacher. They must write sub plans when they’re absent, but I don’t believe they’re given any sick or personal days. That’s one of those things I’d change if I was in charge of the world…or at least our funding. For these ladies as well as the licensed teacher completing her final year before retirement, I am truly grateful.
I am also appreciative for the administrators who’ve led us, even when personality conflicts may have kept a close relationship from forming. Each had areas where their focus was more present. Each had a value in helping me become the educator I’ve learned to be. For these lessons and insights, I’m thankful.
I almost forgot the parents. Now, I could be talking about my parents as my mom volunteers in my classroom once or twice a week and my dad does a few time-consuming tasks in the summer to help prep my classroom. However, I’m referring to the hundreds of parents who’ve entrusted me with their child. Honestly, I can count on one hand the negative letters or messages from parents. Looking back, all but two ended on positive notes later in their child’s education journey. Countless parents have written letters, sent emails, purchased or made sweet gifts to let me know my efforts with their child were appreciated. Ah, little acts of kindness from students’ parents are always meaningful!
Oops, I almost forgot the office staff, custodians, bus drivers, IT, maintenance, and cafeteria crew. They are often overlooked, but let’s be honest…without them…
My classroom would be messier….
My students would have a hard time getting to school…
My stress level would be higher…
And….I’d have to buy more groceries!
Yes, though I may not say it often, they all are important to me and my kiddos in Room 302.
Finally, I’m thankful for my Monday prayer circle. When I started teaching, we gathered either in a second grade teacher’s room or a kindergarten teacher’s room. Then, when the second grade teacher retired, it moved to my room which is somewhat the center of the school. For many years, it’s been just me and two (and sometimes 3) other teachers. How exciting it is that this year we have increased to four and recently we’ve climbed to six and seven. Whoop! Whoop! Most weeks, I’m the one who voices the prayers on our behalf, but when my life is in a tailspin my neighbor steps up to voice them. My faith is my foundation, so my Monday prayer group may be one of the sweetest blessings in the realm of my career.
I think that covers it. My students, their parents, my fellow educators, special class teachers, teacher’s aides, administrators, and Monday prayer group….All are essential parts of my teaching year. God is good, and I appreciate the blessings He’s given me in the arena of my career.