Today is the last Friday of the school year. There is only a day and half left of school. We are in wind-down mode, doing fun activities so the kids end their school year on a happy, stress-free note now that grades are in, report cards printed, and everyone is anxious for the free time they have earned.
In reflecting on this school year I think I have learned two things. Yesterday at lunch my friend Susan said, " In order for the kids (especially Kindergartners) to learn anything from you they have to love you, and for them to love you, you have to love them first." This is very true. The best teachers love their jobs, and they love their jobs because they love their students. It isn't because teaching phonics is just THAT interesting, but watching students learn, sense their own accomplisment and ability is that rewarding.
I have to admit that there were days where I didn't feel like I loved my job or my students as much as I should. I feel like if I did I would have done things differently and probably more effectively.
It makes me think of two teachers who are at the opposite ends of the spectrum in this regard. Strangely enough, their rooms are right next to each other. I find myself in the middle of their spectrum. One has been doing this a long time, has the same worksheets she uses to occupy her students while she beats through guided reading groups, the other also has the same centers she has been using to occupy students in exploratory learning so she can move around the room and work with her students individually. The second teacher has had nearly miraculous results with her young students achieving a grade level above expectations. The first teacher is, well, frustrated, or maybe burnt out.
This is the key of quality teaching. You have to love what you do. The students are not pieces of plastic to be molded in a factory. They give and bend to your attitude. If you love school and you love them, they feel the same way. It's a beautiful symbiosis that is proven to work when implemented, but impossible to measure other than in teacher attitude. No mini-lesson or workshop approach or scripted curriculum can even being to make-up for this element in great teaching.
Next year I am going to work on my attitude. I want to come to work feeling good, not worn-out. I need to take care of myself and my son first, so when I'm here I can make the most of my time and interactions with my students. This year has been a flurry of activity resulting in a blizzard of stress. Next year I hope for sunnier skies, or at least better boots.