As we approach the eve of another school year, there is always reflection, excitement and anticipation on my end. I reflect on past practice to better prepare for a new year, there is excitement about meeting my new crop of students and fulfilling my passion with dear colleagues, and also anticipation for what this new year will bring and how I will navigate the demands and reality of home and school. For parents we are anxious to learn who our child's teacher will be and hope they will be exactly what our child needs - calm, strict, caring, knowledgeable, innovative, creative, kind, professional. Each child needs something different and so as parents we worry, who is this person that will spend the majority of my child's waking day with? Will they be what they need in this moment? I get to live in both worlds. I get to be the teacher who is eager and anxious to meet her students, as well as the mother, who sends her precious children off to be guided and nurtured by someone else.
In this day and age social media allows us to be connected, but sometimes we can be too-connected, too critical, too emotional when sitting behind a screen. I am sure it has been this way forever, that when you learn of your child's teacher you immediately go seeking information. In the past, it was through conversation of close friends, now with social media the information can be a flood gate, and what one person's experience is can be very different from another and when you pose the question "tell me about this teacher" it becomes hard to filter views of people of whom you don't really know and that can be detrimental to the start of a relationship between a family and a teacher, one that is crucial and so very important. A college classmate of mine responded prior to when schedules were released to this very dilemma and she so eloquently warned people of this, that by seeking information in this global way you may gather inaccurate accounts, she also asked for people to remember the teacher, they are a person who puts their heart and soul into their profession, gives of their time and heart. Her words struck me, it's so true, I know, because I'm a teacher.
My mother was a music teacher for 10 years before she stayed home with my sister and I, she now fulfills her teaching passion by being the youth handbell director at our church. She has built quite a program over the last 20 some years and I have learned a great deal from her. My mother embodies what teaching is all about - she has immersed herself in her craft and is beyond knowledgeable about not only music and technique, but also how to teach others to find their skill and talent. Over the years the thing that I have been amazed with is how my mother builds confidence and pride in her students. They work diligently, so that they can play beautiful music for their church family and proudly show their faith and love in Christ through music. My mother has a way of drawing them in and allowing them to individually shine while collectively putting forth an amazing product. Her students love her and even after graduation want to be a part of the alumni choir each year for the December performance. My mother has given her students a platform to be successful, find a community and build confidence in their faith and talent.
This what teachers do, they work extremely hard to find a way to build up a child, to guide them in a direction that allows for growth, to facilitate instruction that in result they will see success. When we, as parents, go seeking for information, what is it that we really want to know? Be comforted by the fact that when one decides to be a teacher they choose this road because they know that this is one of the most important jobs in the world - guiding our youth along their journey, being a support for them as they navigate life. We work tirelessly to be exactly what your child needs.
When I became a mother, a working mother, l gained a great appreciation for a population of teachers who are often overlooked. Those men and women who work with our youngest children, they are teachers and so much more. They too think about how they can guide this child down the right path, how they can nurture them so that they find their voice, how to comfort them when they struggle. I have been blessed by the many teachers who have helped shape my children's lives and especially those women who were there when they not only learned their ABC's, but they also were learning to walk and would stumble, when they transitioned to writing their name, but struggled to find their voice with their peers. Being a teacher is so much more than curriculum and it's so very clear when you look at the work that the teachers at daycares accomplish every day, they are angels.
I've shared before that this past year was a challenge for me. Going back to work after having the twins and finding our groove with the five children was stressful and honestly exhausting. I was exhausted because I couldn't stop pouring my heart into my community at school, I couldn't stop being all that they needed, along with my own children. That's what teachers do, we find it hard to shut off our brain from our school world when we walk out the door each day, we work tirelessly to be what your child needs. That is true for a classroom teacher, an intervention specialist, a music teacher, as well as a teacher in the toddler room. Our students become our people and we want what is best for them. My dear friend and colleague took a phrase that many of us know and added a twist - it takes a village to raise a teacher. She wrote this beautiful tribute to how I have helped her grow. What I hope she knows is that she has helped "raise" me. I would not the be the teacher that I am without her, she is inquisitive, driven and passionate. She is innovative and kind. She makes me better every day because she inspires me, I'm lucky that get to work alongside her. There are many other people who have chosen this same path, that when I sat in their classrooms as a student, I was learning exactly the type of teacher I wanted to be. Thank you Mrs. Coogan, Ms. Rhoades, Mrs. Thornburg, Mrs. Hanlon-Stolte, Mrs. Cozze, Mr. Youmans, Mr. Seldlack for showing me that as a teacher you invest your heart and soul in your student's journey and you better them as a person through your instruction. The same is for the many students who I have had the pleasure of working with, you have changed me, you have given me a reason to be better. Just as a it takes a village to raise a child, there are many hands that go into building a teacher.
As a parent, when you are anxious about your child heading off to this school year, know that as teachers we are cut from a special mold, one that is made with passion, heart, and we are driven by figuring out exactly what your child needs, so that they can find success on this leg of their journey and we can help them get there. I have all the faith in the world in those people who will stand in front of my own five children each day while they start this school year, I know they want what is best for Parker, Weston, Corbin, Caroline and Ryland and will work tirelessly to be exactly what they need.