fresh start

Fresh Start

Sarah Kirchoff Education, Elementary, Life in the Classroom

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2021 has felt like it is taking three years to get through. I look at the first graders in the hallways and I think, “Was it just last year that we worked together online?” It seems like it was much longer than just last school year. When we were going through the 2020-2021 school year, I remember thinking I just wanted it to be over and we could have a fresh start this school year. It did feel like that at first. We got our morning recess back and we were able to sit at the lunch tables, like “normal”, but then cases started to rise and we needed to go back to some of our former mitigation strategies. Putting these restrictions back into place increased the anxiety level and increased the workload for teachers. We are told that it is always about what is best for students, but sometimes we need to advocate for the needs of the teachers.

I see all kinds of articles written by teachers, about not adding more to the teacher’s plate, but I don’t think the right people are seeing these articles. The teachers writing these articles are begging for things to be easier and less stressful. They need more support. Some of the considerations from last year have been forgotten. We still have students missing for 10 days at a time that we need to prepare material for. We are still feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated. When we came back in person last year, I felt a shift in my purpose. I have always thought I would be a kindergarten teacher when I am old(er) and gray(er). I envisioned myself being that old lady kindergarten teacher, still shuffling to school making coffee filter turkeys and queens out of the letter Q. When we came back in person last year, I realized that I want to help more teachers. I want to support and assist teachers. I want to branch out and make a difference in the lives of teachers, and in turn, make a broader impact on the lives of students. I know that some teachers want to leave the classroom because the last two years have been entirely too difficult. I am considering a change because I think the needs of teachers should be a priority. Teachers need more support and guidance so they don’t feel so overwhelmed and underappreciated. We need to make life easier for teachers. We need to take things off their plates. The changes at schools may never fully go back to the “way things were.” What we need to do is give teachers more support. Ask teachers what they need instead of telling them what they need to do. Thankfully, I still love teaching, so even if I don’t get the opportunity to help other teachers outside of the classroom, I can still make a difference to those students in my classroom now and in the future. 2022 is right around the corner, and with a new year, we can always make a fresh start!

 

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Sarah Kirchoff is a kindergarten teacher in the Higley Unified School District. She has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She began her teaching career way back in August 1999, when everyone was worried about Y2K. She did not even have computers in her classroom at that time! Since then, she has taught first grade for four years, preschool for three years, second grade for two years and kindergarten for twelve years. She has worked for three different school districts during her teaching career. During this time, she has been able to identify which grade she found to be the most enjoyable. Her greatest teaching passion is for kindergarten. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. She was teacher of the year at her school in the 2019-2020 school year. Most recently, she became a National Board Certified Teacher as an Early Childhood Generalist in December of 2020. She currently serves on numerous committees at her school including school site council, the instructional leadership team, and the culture and climate team. She is a mentor teacher at her school and has mentored numerous interns and student teaching candidates. When she is not busy with school commitments, she spends time with her family. She has a husband who is also a teacher, and four children. Two of which are students at NAU and two that are in high school. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading books and spending time with family, friends and her two dogs. Young children need a teacher that is always advocating for them, socially, emotionally, and academically. Sarah wants every student she encounters to realize their potential and she is willing to help in any way she can. The impact early childhood educators have on students reaches far beyond their younger years. Sarah wants to leave a positive impact on her students so they can continue to have wonderful educational experiences beyond her classroom.

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