Saturday, December 3, 2016

Week 16: My last week of student teaching - I did it!

My last week of student teaching was nothing short of awesome. In fact, my entire eight weeks in fourth grade was so much fun, I really hated leaving. I want to stay in fourth grade. My dream job would be teaching fourth grade for the rest of my life.

But, there aren't many choices out there when you're applying for a job. And I'm well-experienced in all grade levels. I can teach reading to a kindergartener and algebra to a high school student. I can tutor struggling learners and I know how to offer enrichment to high ability students. I've been doing it all my life. I simply love the art of teaching. It's as much a part of my identity as the hair on my head.

My journey started when I was twelve-years-old and helped Miss Donna at the Busy Bees Preschool. At age fourteen I was teaching Sunday School and Children's Church. At age sixteen I wrote an essay about teaching and won a writing contest and was published in a Sunday School curriculum.

At the age of 21 I taught preschool and kindergarten at a private school for seven years. After I had children I homeschooled my children and also had my own cottage school when they were older where I taught in a one-room school with fifteen students with various abilities for six years.

I. Am. A. Teacher. And I'm not just a teacher for a job. Teaching is in my bones. Everything for me comes back to learning and education. Even in the books I write, I find myself yearning to teach something new. It's a strange gift, this teaching thing. And if you don't have it, well, sorry, you just won't get it.

I always thought I'd like to be an administrator, but the more I'm in the classroom interacting with students, the more I realize it's probably not my bent. I have to teach. I want to teach. By the way, have I mentioned lately how much I love teaching? In fact, my ultimate dream is to inspire other teachers. Maybe that can happen as I gain more letters behind my name. I sure hope so.

In my fourth grade homeroom this past week we wrapped up our Native American Unit studies. The students created their museums about their assigned tribes and were absolutely brilliant in their display of them.

I divided the class into the five prominent tribes who lived in Indiana before the removal: Miami, Shawnee, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, and Delaware (Lenape). Each tribe was responsible for creating a museum. As fourth graders, this was the first big group research project they'd done. I was extremely proud of their efforts.

The museums each had to answer the following questions on this grid:

During their museum open houses, their classmates visited their museum and asked questions. Each tribe was required to answer these questions either verbally or people were to be able to find the answers to the questions via their museums. 

Some students even demonstrated games that the first peoples of Indiana played!

One set of students wrote a song about their tribe, the Kickapoo:

Another student wrote a rap about being a Delaware:

Two boys in the Shawnee tribe went on a bear hunt:

And my favorite movie was made by the Kickapoo tribe:

Saying goodbye wasn't easy. I created this cute card and attached a candy cane. I'm blessed my last day was in December. Candy canes are economical and the students loved them!

I gave my math students a pencil with a holiday eraser and this card. And I gave each of my homeroom students this card with a candy cane and a purple highlighter for highlighting "purple words." (Click here for more info on purple words!)

I was also able to give them each their own copy of one of my books, O Canada Her Story, which was written for their age level. They were thrilled and so was I. We had a book signing during our goodbye party!

And then one of the students got hold of my phone and I had some giggles when I got home and saw what they did...

Apparently fourth graders know how to party. Who knew?

They all wrote me touching notes or drew me a picture. It was very moving for me to read them after I got home. I read them aloud to my husband and we both had a lot of laughs and tears. Kids are the best humans on earth, aren't they?

I'm very blessed that I had a wonderful supervising teacher, Susan Finney, a gifted and prominent clinical supervisor, Nancy Alspaugh (retired high school principal), and now my journey through student teaching is done and I will graduate at the end of December.

I might be older than the average graduate, but I'm not any less excited. I might be older than the average newly licensed teacher, but I'm not any less good at what I do. Student teaching solidified my calling. I. Am. A. Teacher. As much as I am a woman, a mother, a wife, a writer.

I'm a teacher. I teach.

And children, beautiful children, are my favorite pupils.

I'm convinced that I will die with no regrets in terms of how I've spent my time on this earth because I have had the gift of freedom to pursue what I love. How very blessed I feel as I write this. I am always aware that not everyone has this glorious freedom. I have never once taken my education for granted. I'm constantly amazed at how much  I get to learn!

And I think that's a superpower ingredient to good teaching, too. Excellent teachers are always learning. They seek out wisdom like bees do nectar. It's what fuels them. It gives them the strength to give it another go when they feel like giving up. I will never, ever stop learning. There's no way to know everything.

And since that's a universal truth, I guess there will always be a need for teachers.

I think, perhaps, I have chosen a generous path.

Can you guess my new mascot?

As soon as I get my badge, I'll announce my new school and position. So excited!!