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Friday, January 7, 2011

Why I Do What I Do

I'm an elementary school teacher.  Most of you know that.  My first year of teaching was in 1992.  That's 20 years ago!  Yikes!  During that time, I have seen the pendulum swing from one extreme to the other and back again when it comes to the teaching of reading and writing.  I have taught addition and subtraction with "borrowing and carrying," "regrouping," and now "composing and decomposing" numbers--even though it's all the same thing.  My teaching environments have varied widely and I have taught all grades from K through fourth, including a multi-age grouping of kindergarten, first, and second grade all together (my hands down favorite).  


There are days that I really wonder if I accomplished anything or did anything right.  Then there are days where I can really see the fruits of my labors.  Days like today where a student who started the year as a total non-reader demonstrated the ability to read at a first grade level! (That's two year's growth in a semester!)  Days like last month when a student who could hardly write a few words writes a short paragraph!  Or days like last weekend when an email arrives in my in box, such as the one that follows (which I have edited for privacy)...


Hi.My name is XXXXXXXX.You were my 2nd grade teacher in 19XX-XX.I found my year book in an old box and brought back a lot of memories. I just wanted to tell you, I appreciate your patience and kind words in this grade. You were a phenomenal teacher. My behavior was sooooo awful and I remember you were very kind. I continued to have behavior problems through elementary but every one wasn't as a nice as you. Today, I am 25 and behavior free LOL but I will always remember feeling that you really were concerned and sincerly cared and believed that I would change.The change came later,LOL but thank you for believing and not giving up on me.Thanks a bunch!


This is why I do what I do.  Not for the "thank you" but to believe in my students and hope that they can believe in themselves while knowing someone cares.  So that they can spread their wings and fly.  This email really reminded me of that.  In fact, it made me cry.  Still does to reread it again.  And believe me, I remember this student as if it was last week and not two decades ago.


Is there a teacher who touched your life?  Who is it and how was that teacher inspiring or instrumental in making you into who you are today?  Have you thanked that teacher?  

3 comments:

Karen said...

wow - made me cry. We should all take time to thank those teachers that made an impact. You go girl and keep doing what you do - it matters!

Marti said...

I would say the my most influential teacher would have been Mrs. Roberts-she taught me language arts in 5th and 6th grade.

She would always have a Bible verse on the board, was always kind and was one of the only teachers that I felt noticed me. We would even run into her at softball games-yes, she even took time out of her busy schedule to watch her students play.

I remember at the end of 5th grade she came to me and said, "You are the only student who made a 100 on your English test. It made me feel good because I didn't always perform to my best ability and had some learning issues.

I wrote her a letter in college; I don't know if she ever received it. But she helped make me who I am today.

Brenna said...

Wow! How exciting to receive such a nice email of thanks. There are days when we wonder if it all really matters, if we're really making a difference. In the end if we impact just one person, we know it does matter and we have made a remarkable impact.
I, too, received contact from a young girl now 22 or 23 who was in my children's ministry group as a 3rd grader. She said that David and I had a huge impact on her life and I was the one who led her to make a decision to choose Christ. She was from a home of non-believers and church-goers and her mom dropped her off at church then picked her up when it was over. She is now married to a pastor and remained actively involved in church. Her mom is now actively involved in church as well.
My impact on her life trickled down to other lives. Wow!

Yes, Merrill, keep doing what you are doing! It matters.