Friday, May 22, 2009

I am a Teacher

disclaimer:  this one is longer than usual 
My brief time as a special education English teacher has come to an end.  It is so bittersweet for me.  I remember when I first considered the position during my student teaching in Utah.  I was eager to leave Utah and even more eager to return to the great state of Arizona.  However, I felt inadequate and ill prepared for high school teaching-along with special education.  Despite these obstacles I felt very good about the oppurtunity and by Thanksgiving I was building and creating my own classroom and lesson plans.  All I can say is that I needed this oppurtunity.  I needed to learn to be comfortable in my new career, teaching.  After teaching in practicum situations in college I felt like teaching wasn't really for me.  All I needed was one day in the shoes of a high school teacher and I knew that I had found my niche!!!  Every single day I woke up with a smile and ended the day with a smile.  
I was supported by every single teacher and colleague at WHS.  My principal ensured that I had proper technology in my classroom too.  This is my chance to harp about the best invention known to man....THE SMART BOARD.  Let me tell you, I never ever wrote on the board.  With the Smart Board at the center front of the classroom it eliminated my need for a dry erase board.  The ability to access web based information and present content in a visual and kinesthetic fashion was the best way I could meet the accommodations needed  for special education students.  I remember there was ONE day when the electricity went out and I felt
 like I was a caveman teacher.  It was so boring to teach without it. 
Something else I love about Winslow High School.... Those that fill its walls.  My high school teachers are still teaching here and rubbing shoulders with them in a colleague relationship was really neat for me as an aspiring teacher.  I found myself wanting to put my best foot forward everyday because I did not want to let my students and/or community down.
Here are some of the most important lessons I learned from this amazing teaching experience.
1.  Education is for me.  I thrive on teaching and learning.  
2.  Though I will not teach forever, I WILL get my masters degree in the education realm.  I'm deciding between educational psychology and school administration
3.  Special Education is not what you think it is.  There is a horrible generaliztion and label that comes with these students.  Don't believe them.  Just know they have extremely challenging home situations.  The odds are against them.  All they need is someone to believe in them.  
4.  Respect. My classroom became a positive learning environment because I committed myself to respecting every single student the way they deserved.  Students will respect you when they know you expect something out of them.  
5.  Preparedness.  When I do my homework the students will respond.  
6.  Relevancy to schema.  My goal for EVERY thing we did in class was to make it meaningful, applicable, and relvant to their world.  I knew that if I achieved this I would reach the students.  (forget worksheets and busy work-you won't see it in my room)
7.  I love, love, love working with cultures other than my own.  I think it is so crucial for a person to immerse in another culture.  Teaching in Utah wasn't for me.  Suburban Utah life was so mundane and boring to me.  I would take the Navajo reservation any day over suburbia.  New Zealand schools....Here I Come!!!!!   
8. Which brings me to my next point-I love the American school system.  I love that it provides an equal education for all types of learners.  However, I think it's heavily based on teaching to the test.  Accountability is heavily weighed in the wrong areas.  I am super duper scared about teaching in New Zealand.  I'm being thrown to the wolves with this one.  Jason assures me that if I love teaching this much then I'll love New Zealand teaching too!  I hope so. 
9.  The little things.... Teachers are driven by many different things.  One of the most impressionable drivers is the little reminders we receive that we're doing our job.  A student slipped a thank you letter under my door earlier this week.  When I found it I was amazed to hear that I was one of the only teachers that actually taught him something.  He said I had impacted him for the better. My eyes watered and all I could do is thank Heavenly Father for supporting my desicion to be a teacher.  Little reminderes here and there do alot.

In summation, teaching is amazing.  The gospel teaches that gaining an education is crucial and important.  Knowledge blesses our lives and brings us joy.  For that, I am grateful.  


Anonymous said...

those kid sure were lucky to have such an amazing teacher

{kim} said...

You must be a first year teacher, so positive and full of hope. I give you a couple years...just kidding, I love teaching and I can tell you do too. What do you expect, it's in your blood!

amber said...

amen Larissa. Amen. But might I add that after your practicum with me in 2nd grade, those kids really loved you. You will always be remembered by them, even if you thought it wasn't for you. :) Remember their cute little pirate dance?