I finally feel like I have made it. I am just a few days away from retiring. 31 years behind me...
I have a few things to do this summer to close out the grant, but I am feeling the taste of freedom, and I must say it is nice.
This will be my last post for the blog since I started it to go along with the grant. I have been reflective over the last month. Did I do a good job with the last 31 years? Did I spend enough time doing the things that really mattered?
My advice to teachers would be to make sure you keep perspective with teaching. That perspective is to do what is best for the students you are given each year. I can't tell you how many things I have seen come and go.
And...to make sure you don't let the job swallow you up. I think I did a bit too much of that the last ten years. I let the pressures of testing, trying to make parents happy, etc rule me. I regret that I didn't hold that off a bit more.
Early on in my career, I had a student come through my room. His name was Andrew. 4th grade at Ocean City Elementary. He was always so neat and well dressed. He didn't have a lot, but his jeans were ALWAYS starched with a crease in them. Being an ironer myself (I know that I am a dying breed) this was something I always noticed. So, my assumption was he was well taken care of at home. I will be honest...he drove me nuts:) He wanted to make 100's on everything. If he missed anything, I had to find it in the book to show him, so that he could be sure I hadn't messed up. He would have died with today's answers, because we have so many drawing conclusions, inferring kinds of questions. Back then, every thing was pretty concrete right there in front of you. He and I sparred often in a good way. Close to the end of the school year, I gave Andrew and two other students a pizza party after school for completing a math multiplication goal. The pizza was slightly late because of busses, so Andrew didn't get out to the car quite quick enough. His aunt picked him by coming to the room. She was nice enough at the door, but all the way down the hallway I heard her getting after him about being late. I will be honest, I didn't even know he lived with an aunt. I spoke with the guidance counselor that afternoon and discovered quite a few things I didn't know. I leave those off..I will say he was well taken care of, but there were certainly some things I wish I had known earlier. I wouldn't have begrudged him always needing to make a 100.
On the very last day of school, I did notice he wasn't really participating in game day, but rather he asked if he could get the Florida History book that I had already put on the shelf for next year. I said yes, and I vaguely noticed he was drawing. To be honest, I was counting the minutes down. As the bell rang, he was up and out with the crowd, so I didn't notice what he left on the desk.
Now, I guessing this is not going to look like much to anyone. How many drawings do we get every year, but this one touched me profoundly based on the relationship I had with this student. So much so, that I kept it and placed it in my scrapbook.
The fact that Andrew thought I was a great teacher tore me up. He really meant that, because he never said anything like that previously nor would he have ever had the guts to say that to me or give it to me personally. It touched my heart. I considered those notes and expressions that I received from that day forward better than any reward that could be offered. I know we all like to be noticed and patted on the back, but doing a job that made a difference to a child is the ultimate reward.
I don't know what happened to him, because he wasn't there next year for 5th grade, but I never forgot him.
We teach for the students, not the earthly rewards, the district mandates, or tests, but for the individual child.
On a lighter note, I found this on the same page of the scrapbook. This was what I looked like and a view of the classroom that year. LOOK at that gorgeous black hair. I miss that too!!!!!!!!!!
|circa ---early 1990's|
On to the next chapter.