being a teacher, believe, connect, education reform, embrace, hero, inspiration, kids, love

We are Superheroes

We are superheroes. Or at least in the eyes of some students, we are. We can do magic such as melt styrofoam cups, solve complicated algorithms in our head instantaneously, and know exactly what is happening behind us when our backs are turned. We are all-knowing, knowing who needs a hand, a soothing word, a joke. We come to the rescue of students that are lost, disheartened, upset over a fight with another child. And we love endlessly, always ready to share , hug (if allowed), laugh, and even cry. We are superheroes.

And yet, sometimes we forget that, and a raised voice stains our image. A sharpness of tone shows that we might be a little bit evil. A lost temper may prove it once and for all. And the students watch, and talk, and remember. And yet, they continue to believe because we build it back up. We continue our quest to make them superhuman, to make them believe in themselves. To pass on our powers as healers of the world, changers, movers, learners, teachers. We do it all and we do it out of love, respect, necessity. We let our students become our mission because someone has to show them that there is faith that they too will become superheroes one day, that they too will believe in others, that they too will change a life. So believe in yourself so that others may believe in you as well. The difference is being made, just look into the eyes of your students and you will see it. They believe in you, now believe in them.

aha moment, kids, memories, Nancy, special, students

Each Day is Special – Nancy’s Aha Moment

This week’s aha moment is shared by Nancy Ehrlich @NancyTeaches, a passionate teachers who’s blog is a must read. Nancy and her writing about reading and teaching has inspired me on more than one occasion, so do follow her on Twitter and add her blog to your feed. She says about herself, “I have been a teacher all of my life.  I can’t remember when I wasn’t a teacher.  I started my own school in my backyard when I was in fourth grade.  I showed up at the neighbors’ houses for parent-teacher conferences!  Currently I am a reading specialist and former head of school who returned to the classroom. My class and I looped and stayed together for fourth grade.  This is my 29th year in the field of education.”

When asked to describe my “aha” moment in teaching, I was flooded with a plethora of images.  Imagine a montage of every day in your teaching life. My memories are a swirling mist of faces smiling at me as I remember the different children, classrooms and settings that filled the years.  Each day as a teacher was special.  Every child that crept into my heart defines my career.  I could never choose just one!

Of course, there have been bumps along the way.  There were days that I wanted to pull my hair out and run screaming from the classroom.  However, when I look back, a child was never the catalyst.  They were my soft-spot to land even on the worst of days.  Once engaged with a student, the rest of the world faded away.  They were all that mattered.

I remember Josh who came to me as a third grader and couldn’t read.  His parents and I put our heads together and came up with a plan.  We worked as a team and built his skills as well as his confidence.  By the way, he is doing well in college now.  I remember Taylor who was the perfect little angel in the classroom, but I knew she wasn’t learning.  Through testing, we discovered she had severe ADD and with the right plan, began to flourish.  I was so grateful I trusted my instinct.

I remember on September 11th the world changed for everyone, but for one of my students, it was intimately personal.  When this student’s parents called me to let me know what was happening and people were scrambling to get to school and chaos was everywhere, this child and I went for a long walk.  (I was a head of school at this point and could do this.) Throughout the next month as she grieved for her lost family member, she and I talked and read books together.  I hope I was a place for her to heal.  I will never forget her showing me the dust from the collapsed towers.

Then there was Izzy!  She and I bonded the moment she put her hand in mine as I guided her to the classroom.  She came to me significantly below grade level and was raw from the experiences she had in a former school.  Together we taught each other so much.  She is on grade level now and I learned to be a better teacher through working with her.

I walk into a classroom each day grateful.  George E. Fraiser said, “No one should teach who is not a bit awed by the importance of the profession.”  I’m thankful that each day gives me “aha” moments of joy.  I search every day for a way to connect with students, so that when they leave me, they will remember that learning is always filled with “aha” moments.