“As I watch their faces light up when they film themselves over Flipgrid and hear their giggles as I once again forget to take myself off of mute, I feel a sense of calm and remember why I started teaching in the first place.” Back in August, I wrote my first blog post about the chaos that was the first week of this wild school year (things are starting to calm down now that we’re nearing June), and I can’t even begin to explain how much this year of virtual teaching has changed me as a teacher.
When this school year began back in July, like every other teacher, I had no idea what I was getting myself into; I prepared to the best of my ability and then threw my hands up in the air hoping for the best. However, as the year slowly went on, I noticed that this year wouldn’t be ALL bad. Despite all of the negatives, the positives were popping up all over the place. I was building stronger relationships with the families of my students than I ever have before. I met baby siblings, pets, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and grandparents that I wouldn’t have necessarily gotten the chance to meet if we had been in person this year. I also learned how to incorporate technology into my classroom for all future learning. However, the most significant positive of the year was watching the confidence grow in all of my students. I watched as one student who struggled to write his first name at the beginning of the year transition into writing in complete sentences. I can’t help but laugh every time a particular student comes pops back into my classroom at the end of the day to comment on the “easy math homework” and how much he loves to read. When even in December, he was skipping out on the lighter math homework assignments. I’ve also had the privilege of watching one of my students that I also had the previous year grow leaps and bounds from where she was at the beginning of the last school year.
Despite it all, I watched through data and observation my students make progress. There’s still a ton that will need to be reviewed during this upcoming year, but I couldn’t be more proud of all of the hard work my fantastic firsties and their families put into making this year worthwhile. Through watching my students and speaking with their families, my confidence as a teacher has begun to grow, and I’m finally starting to realize that I might actually be pretty decent at this whole teaching thing.
Speaking of my growth in confidence, I wouldn’t have gotten through this year without the incredible support of our coach and our vice-principal. To quote Bob Proctor, “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” I leaned on Melissa and Misty a lot this year and learned so much from both of them regarding teaching and leadership. They answer my questions, give me support (it wasn’t random that they were the first two people I contacted when I got into a serious car accident a few months ago, along with Lindsey, our school counselor), and most importantly, they allow me to experiment to find out what truly works for my particular students. I wouldn’t have gotten through this year without their support, and I can’t wait to grow even more throughout the years we’re all together at our school. It’s been through watching them lead and really listening to them that I’ve learned what really makes an effective leader, and I hope to utilize my leadership skills more in the upcoming school year.
There are so many ways to describe this year; traumatic, hectic, unforgettable, but I can honestly say this was the year that I’ve truly fallen in love with teaching.