This blog post topic from I Heart Grade 3 was a difficult one to write about. My initial first reaction was to pick something very obvious, like getting my Master’s Degree, hiking Yosemite, or learning to play guitar. I suppose I could write a whole long boring post about that, or a brief snippet, but then why would you read it?
And to be honest, while I can list those things as achievements of mine they are not my greatest. To many people in this day and age, and political climate, my greatest achievement seems, well… small.
My greatest achievement is that I teach.
This of you who teach, know what I mean about the “ah-ha” moment. That magical moment when a student who didn’t get it, now does.
The first time I really remember a big ah-ha moment was in my first year of teaching. I was teaching kindergarten, and we had begun teaching site words. This would have been about January and up until that point in the year we had been working on letters and sounds and some were ready to move on. So it was time for the whole class to give it a try. The first sight words I taught my class was the word “the”. We worked on it for 2 weeks. My students understood how to read “the” in isolation, but they were struggling to use it in their reading/writing. Then one morning while we were doing a read-aloud one of my students’ eyes suddenly became as big as saucers. Then half mesmerized he said, “I can see the word the.” He seemed extremely astonished to have heard himself say that – so he repeated himself a few times. Then other students started noticing “the” in the sentences in the book. Then miracles of miracles one of them said, “hey that page says the cat ran”…. If I didn’t love teaching before I was definitely hooked then. That class went on to have 100% test on grade level (40% above grade level) on the DRA.
Another time was when I had a student who was having a real hard time with temper tantrums. He threw temper tantrums when he didn’t get the answer right. He threw temper tantrums when he didn’t get picked first. He threw temper tantrums when he pencil broke. Basically he there temper tantrums over anything. He would throw himself bodily on the floor and kick and scream and punch the floor in classic temper tantrum pose. The other children would circle around him and try to calm him down. Nothing anyone did would ever seem to calm him down. Eventually the Assistant principal who was good friends with his father would come and pick him up and carry him tot he office to wait for his daddy to come get him. I had tried behavior charts, rewards systems, walk around the school breaks, computer incentives. You name it. One morning out of desperation, I pulled him aside while the rest of the class was completing his morning work. I told him that I knew that he was a wonderful, caring, smart young man who was capable of doing better. I told him that I really believed that if he set his mind to it, he could be my perfect little gentleman. That was it. Seriously. That day there were no temper tantrums, not even close to one. at the end of the day as we were walking out for dismissal, I went over to the little boy to congratulate and thanks him, but before I could speak he beat me to it. “Wasn’t I just your perfect little gentleman today?” I emailed and told him he was, and that I was grateful and proud of him. He did that everyday for the rest of the school year. No more tantrums, and every afternoon he needed for me to let him know that he had been perfect little gentleman. For him it has definitely been and “ah-ha”, but for me it was definitely a, “what, the what now?”
Of course, as teachers we should take the time to recognize the little achievements we reach each day with our students. That they now can add 2+2, tie their shoes, put their homework in the correct basket, write a paragraph, recognize a simile, convert a fraction to a decimal etc… etc… these are achievements we often take for granted, and leave unnoticed. I encourage you to everyday keep a journal about your school day, and commit yourself to writing down at least 3 positive things that happened in that day. You may surprise yourself by all the things that are achieved in your classroom each day.
This video is a bit old (2011) but it speaks to this topic perfectly. In it Taylor Maili provides the ultimate comeback for anyone with the audacity to ask what a teacher makes.
In other words,
I teach, what’s your superpower?
This post has been part of I Heart Grade 3‘s summer linky party. To read more click the image below: