Teaching is a unique profession that those not in education often do not fully understand. People ask me all the time, "Why are you a teacher?" Each day I have a different answer to that question based on an experience from the day. I am a teacher and I am thankful. Maddie, a former student, wrote a beautiful essay about me and I earned the honor of B93.3's Teacher of the Month Award. This month was filled with compliments, stories and memories about the award, my students, and my profession. I always teach my students the importance of reflecting on struggle, growth and celebrating success. I have had more than my share that led me to this point of overwhelming gratitude. I am especially thankful for my students, my family, and my professional growth.
I am incredibly thankful for my students over my twenty years of teaching. The relationships I have built with them will be remembered for a lifetime. I treasure all the notes, visits, and updates from my former and current students. I have discovered that being a Language Arts teacher is a special gift because you are able to learn more about students through their writing, blogging and one on one conferences. My 6th grade students have always mentored younger students with writing and technology. When I moved to Pewaukee School District, a few of my former Merton students who were experienced bloggers mentored my new 6th grade students and continue to comment on our blogs. They are dedicated writers and mentors, and wanted to share their experience with younger students because they knew they could teach their skills to others. I am so proud of them. They were willing to do this for students they didn't even know at a different school.
I have also discovered that my students are the ones who help me stay the course when my life seems upside down personally or professionally. My classroom is always a place I feel at home and accepted. I hope my students feel that way too. It was a hard decision for me to leave Merton after 19 years, and I wasn't sure how my students would take the news. They understood and respected my decision and said all the right things. Students seem to find the solutions to problems that adults find complicated. I love that about them. They take risks, innovate, collaborate, talk, smile, laugh, cry, create, fail, try again, write, all with me throughout the day. Why am I a teacher? I am a teacher because of my students and I am so thankful for the time I get to spend with them.
Teaching is a profession that takes an enormous amount of time and dedication. You need a family that supports and understands your level of commitment to your career, but also find a balance between work and home. I am so thankful for my husband, Chris, who is my biggest supporter and holds our family together. He does this along with his professional role of Middle School Principal. We have two amazing boys, 9 and 2, so our schedules are crazy. I am grateful that he values my role as a teacher just as much as his role as a principal. We are equals, personally and professionally. The time he spends with our boys allows me to work on my professional passions. Chris is not only a great leader at work, but also at home. I am so thankful our boys have a role model like him.
I am thankful to be selected Teacher of the Month in November for personal reasons as well as professional. 10 years ago, my mom passed away in November. She was also a teacher who made a difference in the lives of many middle school students in West Bend, WI. Her birthday was also in November. Being raised by two dedicated educators, and now following that tradition with my own family, I am filled with pride. Why am I a teacher? I am a teacher because I have a family that supports me and has taught me the importance of education. I will always be a lifelong learner, and I hope that our boys will value education as much as my husband and I do.
Professional growth and change is something I always considered a necessity in education. Not everyone agrees with me, but when we consider the fact that our world is ever changing, we need to look at our practices as educators and realize that professional growth and change should be ongoing. This year I am thankful for the Pewaukee School District because they believe in professional growth and change. I have found a wonderful home at Horizon Elementary School. My new leaders, Pete Gull and Jodi Swanson, start our staff meetings with "appreciations" for each other. I leave our meetings with all I need to know about standards-based grading and SLO's, but I also feel thankful knowing more about my colleagues and all the great things they are doing. I miss all my teacher friends I left after 19 years at Merton, but was welcomed by new friends at Horizon. Change is scary because it seems unknown, but if you are in a position where you are no longer growing, it's time to move on. I am so thankful I did. Teaching is the ultimate opportunity for professional growth and an opportunity to follow your passions. Why am I a teacher? I am a teacher because I believe in the power of learning and growth.
As teachers, we all have days and lessons that don't go well. We have students who don't like us. We have parents who disagree with a decision we made. I admit that I am one of those teachers who take those criticisms to heart. I wish I could "Shake It Off" like Taylor Swift advises me to do in such a wonderful sing song way, but instead I obsess over it. I want to be the best teacher I can, and any criticism is hard to hear. That is why I wanted to write this today. To remind myself how lucky I was to be recognized by Maddie in November of 2014, along with all the other letters, cards and emails I have received over the years. As educators we should be thankful to everyone who supports us, celebrate, remember all our hard work, and do our best to shake off the occasional criticism.