Sunday, August 18, 2013

And so it begins…

Monday begins my fourteenth year in my district, my sixteenth in public schools, my eighteenth in education. I am as excited to meet my students on Tuesday as I was eighteen years ago.

Eighteen years ago I taught kindergarten at KinderCare Learning Centers while going to grad school at night to get my elementary education degree.

I’ve learned a lot.

I think of some students from my first classes so long ago – Auggie, Kelsey, Danielle, Derek – and I feel humbled. God knows I tried, and also God knows I had no idea what I was doing.

Even four years later – my first years at Monticello – I was learning. Brittney, Morgan, Robby, Kaitlyn, and many more were so kind to their teacher as she found her way. I am forever in their debt.

Thinking over the years I see faces – the students I will never forget, even if their names don’t come as quickly as they once did. Students are what keep me coming back to this job – year in, year out.

I am grateful for students who still greet me with hugs, reminiscing about their year with me so long ago.

I am grateful for parents who take the time to tell me about their children – where they are, what their future plans hold.

I am grateful for students and parents who have supported me these long eighteen years.

There are many times I look back and get frustrated with myself. Why would I have ever used _____? And then, I remember. I did the best I could. I’ve learned, grown, changed.

Over all of the years, however, there is one thing that hasn’t changed. I can picture the faces of those students in my first class as clearly as the students who just left me. I have loved them all. Relationships are something I didn’t need to learn about, it seems. I have always believed that knowing my students, and letting them know me, was critical to the success of our classroom.

In just a few days I will begin creating those relationships again. What has changed is that now I have eighteen years of experience in doing so. Our classroom will be alive with 80 children this year – three classes of 26 or 27 kids. But we are not alone. The hundreds of students I have already taught are there too. Their stories are our stories. My former students have shaped me into the teacher I am today, just as I have – I hope – shaped them into the people they have become. So as I enter my classroom on this eighteenth year, I know I am not alone. That first day I will sit down for our read aloud and glance up at my new class. I will see their faces, but also those of all of the children I have loved.

For this, I am grateful.