I love what I do. It makes me happy to walk the halls in the morning, see all of the artwork displayed and anxiously await the day that is so full of potential. Teaching, in my opinion, is so much more than the Webster definition, “to impart knowledge or skill.” Teaching requires an unbelievable passion, a positive attitude (daily), an insatiable thirst for knowledge, the patience of a saint, and a certain fearlessness! I must admit, my “passion” did not extend to Reading in my early teaching career. Reading instruction has been an acquired taste for me. I have attended professional development opportunities and spent many summer hours and evening hours familiarizing myself with the intricacies of teaching a child to read. Learning not only the delivery of content, but inventing creative activities to instill a confidence in the struggling reader first, and achieving reading independence second. I believe that these are two ingredients of a good teacher, insatiable thirst for knowledge and a passion for the profession. Another important “ingredient” of an outstanding teacher is a certain fearlessness inside and outside the classroom. Dr. Seuss is credited for once saying, “And, will you succeed? YES! 98 and ¾ percent Guaranteed!” I state this as much for my kids as I do for myself. A reminder to be fearless, to try something new and different. Sometimes the lesson and/or activity does not go as planned or it may completely fall flat. A huge lesson that I learned early in my career was that it’s okay! Get up, brush yourself off and try again. Be bold in your lesson planning; think inside, outside, over, under and through the proverbial box. As to fearlessness outside the classroom, funding is always a major educational stumbling block. One way I overcame this particular barrier was to round up resources and support for my classroom through building a partnership with a local business. It has been the support of ACE Hardware of Viborg, SD, that has enabled my kids to receive equipment and supplies to enhance our Science curriculum, supplies for my guided reading groups, seating for the classroom library, field trip opportunities, and an authentic audience for our art projects and published writing pieces. It has been my experience that students are more engaged in learning when it directly relates to their surroundings. Finally, what may possibly be the most important ingredient in an outstanding teacher, the patience of a saint. I do not believe that patience is something innate. It is learned; generally, the hard way. I was a stay-at-home Mom for 8 years; partly out of a strong desire to do so, and partly out of necessity. My son Owen is autistic. At the age of 3, he was formally diagnosed. With that diagnosis brought many questions, many late nights and a thirst for knowledge unequaled to date. I immersed myself in content. I attended conferences andI learned. I learned to listen, to be proactive and not reactive. I learned to think over, under, in, out, and through the box. I learned to “look” at the behavior and “see” the child. The rewards of teaching are incredible! I have a new respect for all things “vowels” and an excitement for when my kids start utilizing reading strategies and begin to decode the text for themselves. I love the amazing, “my mind has just been blown” moments in Science. I love when a behavior plan is finally working and the ODD/ADHD child is excelling. I love tracking the progression of each individual student, and when the data is shared in a student or parent conference, seeing the pride reflected in the faces of my students and the hope reflected in the faces of their parents. In short, I love what I do.
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