As I continued to think about Teacher Appreciation Week, I began to think of my journey, what I’ve learned along the way, and what I’m thankful for.
I started substitute teaching in 1993. Wow! That was a long time ago. I did my final student teaching in the spring of 1996 at Cahaba Heights Elementary. I’m thankful for that class. They gave me the first real taste of teaching and taught me just how rewarding and fun teaching could be.
My first “real” position was at Cornerstone Schools of Alabama. I was hired to teach 2nd grade the Friday before school started. In my four years there from 1996-2000, I learned the need to be flexible and that you don’t have to be dependent upon textbooks.
In 2000, I began my first journey with Birmingham City Schools at North Roebuck Elementary. In my 7 years there I learned that school could be more powerful if we changed our attitude from “got to” to “get to”, mastery was very important, and that sometimes students just need to be convinced that they can do something. We have to believe in them and show them that too.
I took some time off teaching for a while. I came back to teach almost half a year at McAdory Elementary School. That class may never know how important they were to me. I was so scared coming back after time off, but they helped me fall in love with teaching again and they taught me that classrooms need not have walls and that letting students direct some of their own learning was more fun and more effective.
In 2011, I started working in Hoover at South Shades Crest Elementary. I taught 3rd grade. There I learned the value of a second chance, the power of relationships, and began a transition in my teaching philosophy.
In 2013, Inverness Elementary became my next home. While there I learned the importance of being true to what you know is best for children. To each and every one of your students. Fair warning, it may not be accepted by everyone. Do it anyway.
I’ve now come back to Birmingham City. I’m having the time of my life. Who knew I’d ever end up in kindergarten. I have a new respect for every kindergarten teacher I’ve ever met. This year, I’ve learned even more. We have to be child-focused, intentional, and developmental correct. We have to make each and every child the most important one in the room and do everything in our power to prepare them for what’s to come. I’ve also learned that education is more important than standards. The whole child has to be developed and nurtured.
Each and every year, at each and every place I’ve been, I’ve not just been the teacher. I’ve also been a student. My kids have taught me more than I would’ve ever imagined. To my students, it’s an honor and a privilege to have ever been called your teacher.