Love and Forty Years of Teaching

Delyssa Begay Education, Education Policy, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Parent Involvment, Social Issues

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I attended parent-teacher conference at my little one’s school the other evening. I met my sister there with her children, and we visited their teachers. It was awesome to see the enthusiasm all the children had – towing parents around the school, showing their projects and writings, and listening to teachers talk about specific skills and behaviors the kids exhibit. I was so proud to be a parent at this particular school, because I had attended about three decades ago!

Now, my nephew’s teacher shared with pride how much my nephew had improved. She knew his likes, dislikes, challenges, and strengths. I remember attending a conference with her earlier in the year about his hyper tendencies. She had such compassion when I shared his struggles in school, and then the techniques I used at home to calm and focus him. We said we’d all work together for him to gain confidence in his reading and writing skills. And there was proof – his skills have greatly improved, he loves school, and serves as an EXAMPLE of patience in class. 

Power. That’s all that came to mind about teachers. Power to change and influence lives – isn’t that why most of us entered the profession? I was touched by the amount of detail and “proof” that she knew of my nephew’s and his classmates’ lives and learning. Time, patience, and love, yes love, made that difference and achievement possible.

I could not help but think about my students and their ways. I get after them to be well-behaved, respectful, and thoughtful. Sometimes, I’ve asked them what they think of my nagging and “reminders.” They said they’re fine with it, and I respond, “But, I’m mean.” And they say, “But, it’s because you love us.” I know it seems touchy-feely, but love goes a long way. My students are 10th graders, and Ms. J’s are 1st graders – love counts at any age.

Ms. J said she’s retiring after, get this – forty years! Forty years in the classroom and I asked her a couple of questions – what do you think of education now? “It’s in a sad state. They expect too much of kids with tests. It’s not fair to them because it causes more anxiety, and shows nothing about their unique selves.” I asked if she had worked at any other school. She said she had, and at one time at the administraiton building, but “after a month, I said to put me back in the classroom…I’d rather work with a six-year-old over an adult (emphasis her’s, not mine) any day!”

Forty years – how many of us can do that today? Thank you, Ms. J!

 

DeLyssa Begay

Many Farms, Arizona

I belong to the Black Sheep People. My clan is my mother’s, and my father’s is One-Who-Walks-Around People. I am granddaughter to the Bitter Water and Red-Streak-into-Running Water Peoples. That’s mouthful, but it is my identity.

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