Although technology generally annoys me, I do have an intense desire to write out all of the thoughts processing though my scrambled brain. Therefore, I have chosen to enter the blogging world. I feel guilty because I am really using it as a type of therapy for myself. So, if you ever read anything here written by me that seems pointless or insignificant, just know I had to release a thought.
While there are many things that are heavy on my mind right now, there is one topic that I cannot escape from at this time of year; sending 28 children out of my care and on to another grade. For those of you who don’t know, I teach fifth-grade. It is a seriously stressful job balancing student needs and parent requests, but I know that others who have a profession where they have to be “on all of the time” don’t get 28 hugs at the end of each day, and for that I am grateful.
It may be that I have an attachment issue. It may be that I am a control freak. It may be that I want my own kids so badly it hurts. However, no college course could have ever prepared me for the feeling of having to let students move on at the end of each school year. I have only been teaching for 3 1/2 years and I have cried each last day of school thus far. The students are just excited for summer, and while I am as well, I always find myself sitting in an empty classroom wondering if I did a “good enough” job with them.
Almost every person I have asked can name all of their elementary school teachers in order. They can’t name what curriculum was taught each year, what level they were reading at, or whether they had a report card full of “consistently demonstrating, demonstrating, or needs improvement” markings. They remember fun projects, field trips, the strange kid in their class, and usually the interesting quirks each teacher embodied. When I reflect upon this finding, wearing my teacher hat, I am curious what my students will remember about me.
Curriculum is often in the driver’s seat when it comes to topics and lessons I have to teach. It is becoming more and more apparent that every minute of my day will be mapped out and we must move our students at a rapid pace to cram everything in.Try getting 89 fifth-graders to comprehend and truly understand history from the Ice Age clear through the Civil War at an hour of instruction time a day. I don’t like to teach things just to check them off of a list, but I also find myself trying to find “not as important” parts of history to skip just so that I can get everything in.
When it comes down to it, my students probably won’t remember who was the first explorer to make it all the way around the world, or who was at the First Continental Congress. I thought that might bother me at first, until I realized that there are much greater lessons I want them to leave my classroom with. This is what I hope they remember: (or things I tell them often)
#1- Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. Just becasue someone else tries to sell you short, doesn’t mean you have to buy into it.
#2- I love each of you for different reasons. Don’t think that you all have to be good at the same things, the world would be so boring if you were.
#3- “Ew, I don’t want to know if you can go to the bathroom. However, you MAY go the the bathroom.”
#4- Don’t be rude. The words please and thank-you are totally underrated.
#5- This is your Earth to take care of. Recycle anything you can.
#6- Be an active citizen. It isn’t really a choice, it is an obligation.
#7- Once upon a time, you had a fifth-grade teacher who wanted you to push yourself to do better than your best, who told you it was possible, and who offered you a hug every day.
If any of them even remember 4 of these things, I will feel like I have done my job. If any of that seems cliche to you, come teach for a year or two. 🙂
Feel free to leave any elementary school teacher memories!