As many of you know, I am working on my Masters of Arts in Teaching. Recently I completed some observation hours at a local elementary school and decided to share educational background with you so you can see where I’m at.
Let’s start at age 16.
I was living at home and going to school. To make a long story short, I didn’t like school. Even though I was a mostly A student, I wasn’t really interested in my classes. My teachers saw me for about an hour a day. I walked in, sat down, listened, and worked on the assignments.
I was bored.
Outside of school I danced. My teachers were lively and took interest in me. They inquired about my life and school, of course my answer was always “ugggg” when it came to school, but my point is they were interested. They listened and they cared. I didn’t have that at school, and school, unfortunately, is where I spent most of my time.
In my younger years I remember going to school, but I don’t remember reading a lot of books or engaging in a lot of the lessons- I was just kinda there. Naïve maybe? The things I do remember have remnants of fun, hands-on-type activities. Whether that be a computer game in the 4th grade (Oregon Trail-wow what a memory! I LOVED that game!) or the little quizzes in Mr. Baden’s class that always got my mind churning, or even P.E. where we got to climb ropes in the gym. One clear memory is my 1st grade class exploring a creek behind the school. (At least I think it was 1st grade!)
My mom was my preschool teacher and she was amazing. I became so engaged in all that we were doing. Painting and sand buckets and water and boats, the books they read aloud. I mean, I was so young of COURSE I loved these things.
Maybe I just became bored because I grew up? Peter Pan would be so upset to learn how confined my life became because of the restrictions of the school system in our society. Sit down. Don’t talk. Write.
I see some choreography describing this precisely in my near future. Maybe I’ll set it on someone soon. Any takers?
By the way, have y’all heard about The Peter Pan Syndrome? [The supposed psychological phenomenon of immaturity among some men and women, who, like the fictional character, remain childish and fail to assume appropriate adult social roles and responsibilities.
I don’t really think this relates to me, but it’s sad how it relates to so many people around us everyday. Disney needs to put out a cartoon about determination and pushing through the tough times. Bambi and the Lion King are not cutting it. We need a current movie too- maybe that new Nemo/Dory movie will be good? I mean, I don’t think that kids should get their lessons from movies, but you know just as much as I do that this IS the medium that kids learn their lessons nowadays. Why not make it a good lesson about growing up. Parents need to be more involved too.
It takes a village, people. And I’m not talking about the disco group.
Anyway, I guess no one can live up to my mom’s teaching skills? Ha ha! I mean I compare all my learning experiences to being in her class when I was 4. I’ve had a couple good ones, and even the ones I may consider to be “bad” are probably good. I am in no way trying to blame anyone for my journey in the school systems across America. Sometimes kids just go through school and don’t like it. Could they have tried harder? Sure. If someone reached out to me would I have stayed in school? Most likely yes. Sometimes, and probably the majority of the time, students can’t articulate what I’ve discovered after all this time- and that is that I was bored.
I also had to move around a lot. I’m from Boston, and lived in multiple towns and went to multiple schools. Then I moved to Texas and the cycle continued. From 4th grade to 6th grade I went to a private school and it was a good school, but there was (and maybe still is) something in me that rejects the day-to-day of a school system.
Let me be free. Let me explore.
Maybe as a teacher I am leaning more toward a free school or Montessori? Maybe I’ll home school? I wish I could get paid to be a home school teacher! Maybe the payoff isn’t monetary? I love to learn. I just hate to sit and be told how to learn. I need experience. I wonder if that is how most kids feel? How will my kids feel about school if I hated it? And my husband, he was bored too. As a teacher in training I want to find ways to make sure my kids and students enjoy learning- no matter which type of school I work in.
A major factor in all of this is that books and reading could have changed me. I never really had a love of books the way a lot of you have. I had other things to figure out in my life that didn’t fit into the bindings of a nice book. My sister read the Narnia series to me and my other sister and I loved that. We also went to the public library after school every once and a while. It was my favorite time, I remember. They gave me cookies.
You had me at cookie.
If you ask me to remember the science or history or math lessons I learned…forget it! I hated anything that required a book. Even in college I hated books- never read my textbooks, just scanned them enough to understand and get through the work. Discussions are what I really thrived on, not busy work. Face to face conversation where I actually interacted with a human being. If the lesson pertained to my life I was engaged, but if it didn’t, or the teacher didn’t make me believe that it did, I wasn’t.
In fact it wasn’t until about 3 years ago that reading for pleasure actually entered into my life. How sad…right? I’ve been trying to play catch up ever since, but with 3-year-old-twins, my time in school, and a husband in school…there isn’t much time. I have had the joy of reading about 5-6 books though.
Yes. 5…or 6.
This must change! Ha! You can only imagine the emotion I felt when I recently observed this elementary class and heard the numbers of books they read…just this YEAR!
Reading is so important when kids are young, and Justin and I really work hard to encourage Abby and Henry to read. I want them to have opportunities to dive into a book, into another world, to have experiences that teach us. To be content with the words on a page and not feel like it’s forced. The teacher I observed recently had such an eloquent way of getting her students involved in the story. The tools she used were fantastic. If I knew this wouldn’t bother the classroom learning I would have been clapping and nodding my head the entire class. I’ll post about the tools she uses soon- if you’re a mom or a teacher you will love it.
One book I do recall reading and loving, and then reading again was Walk Two Moons. I remembered this book throughout my years of school and it honestly has helped shape me. Its lesson teaches you to put yourself in another persons shoes before you judge what is going on. As time has gone by, since my kids and marriage, I had released my memory of this book, thankfully not the lesson within it.
Last week, when I was sitting and watching this class, the teacher placed a book in my hands and the emotions swelled in my mind.
It was a book by the same author- Sharon Creech.
I’ll be 28 on the 28th of this month, and Sharon Creech’s two books Walk Two Moons and Love That Dog are the two books I can say that I know well. Did you see that part about being 28 years old? And that part about 2 books?
Like I said, I have read a couple more recently- but dang! I am jealous of the education some kids have gotten. And I went to a private elementary school too! Jealous might not be the best word. Maybe I am simply pleased to see how these students are learning. Happily surprised at how many books are integrated into learning.
To see a teacher who is my dream teacher role model and to be able to learn from her was a great experience, and emotional too. I want to be like her. I want to give my future students the school experiences I never had and/or can’t remember.
I just wish I had someone AT my school in my teenage years who had taken more of an interest in my desires, my engagement. In my experience of working at summer camps, I learned that more interest I show in a topic, the more interested the kids will be. As educators we have to be just as excited about whats on the agenda. It is our responsibility. One of the biggest tips I got from my observation teacher is to read what my students are reading. We all don’t have a lot of time with our busy schedules, but over time, teachers, you can build up a classroom library and add to it as you go.
Like I said- this lady is AMAZING. She reads and discusses books with her students, and when a student and her have a one on one regarding the book, she knows how to ask questions to see which characters they enjoyed…what was surprising to them…questions to consider…vocabulary words to look up…the list goes on. Maybe I am just so shocked at the learning I see happening because I never experienced learning like this? Maybe I did and I just don’t remember?
Speaking of remembering- another thing this teacher does is she has her students write. Writing about different topics, and writing about what they read. She also stresses the point of writing the date on the journal entry- and TEACHES WHY that little detail is important.
Because it helps us see our growth over time. One day I will look back at this post and see the growth from this point until then, and I will remember this little, yet very important lesson.
Going back to my high school years, I was 17 when I dropped out of high school. Boredom seemed to get the best of me. And dreaming, and a first love. I left small town Texas and moved to California.
Dreams can come true.
I lived in San Diego from 2002-2008, and about a year and a half of that time I lived in Mexico.
Age 17-19: The salty air of the coast and the sweet sun that shone down on me every summer as I danced and lazed about with my friends drinking wine, jumping in the ocean waves, and filling my life with love…I grew. I grew to love learning again. Through traveling and culture and people I couldn’t get enough. I needed more. I worked at outdoor education camps and equestrian camps and LEARNED amazing lessons like how to clean a hoof and how to trot on a horse. I physically SAW things in nature at the outdoor ed camps.
I began to ask questions, to ponder. My future was ahead of me and I had options. I had the world at my fingertips.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? –Mary Oliver
I learned the science lessons I was never interested in at school because they were happening right in front of me! I learned about geology and astronomy and plants and animals. I watched the other naturalist teaching and getting kids excited to learn. I saw it happen. I learned. I was excited. This excitement had led me back to school once again. I grew to understand the purpose of school and my purpose to learn. The day I became a California resident is the day I signed up for my first college courses. My teachers at Southwestern College were passionate about the subjects they taught. Mr. Bolland, who I still keep up with to this day, increased my curiosity in philosophy and since then it has only grown. Mary Jo Horvath took my choreography class outside and we developed art by looking at structures around us and creating viewpoint pieces. (this development ultimately became what I now use in my choreography every single time I create a work. I use what is around me to bring me inspiration. I transpose ideas onto dancers and I love it. Speaking of…I need to get back in the studio SOON.)
I became hungry. I found my inner hunger and desire to gain knowledge about any and everything, and I haven’t stopped my pursuit. 3 associate degrees (dance/journalism/general studies), a BA in Dance, and now my MAT (which is in progress) and who knows what’s next!? I’ve always wanted to be a chef at a restaurant, or a baker, a mail lady, and even a florist.
I mean, if it has to do with people or food, I’m there. I love to learn, I love experience, I love to teach. EAT…ha ha!
I wanted to Walk Two Moons and meet people and love people and believe it or not these passions still ring true in my life. I hate the sound of being confined to an office, or a desk all day. I need human interaction to survive. Contact. I also hate the sound of dropout rates, knowing I was a part of that statistic at one point. I hate the sound of the question “what do you want to do when you grow up?”
Do I really have to choose? Can’t I do it all? I’m 28 in 2 weeks and let me just say- I have lived a very fulfilled life thus far. I have done so much- have been so satisfied. I have also struggled, and I have also been blessed beyond measure.
I want to say that you, yes you, I’m talking straight to YOU- you can do anything you want!!! You can do more than just ONE thing!! Why limit your life? Why confine yourself to one idea? If that is what you want and choose that’s great! But if you have had any doubts about the paths in your life- take them all! It is never to late to do what you want!
Side story: one time I yelled this at my husband for about 5 minutes straight with tears down my face “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING! ANYTHING!! ANYTHING! ANYTHING JUSTIN!! ANYTHING!!” I’m not kidding about the 5 minutes straight, or the tears. You can ask him. (I’m not really proud of this moment….but I got my point across yes sir I did!) I had to yell it and repeat to get to him. He hadn’t believed this for a LONG time, and I had to be dramatic in my display for him to get it. Sooooo…how do I get this message across to my students? Ha ha- without having a classroom of parents complaining to me that I scared their child with my yelling?
How? This is the part where you scroll to the bottom and click reply and give me suggestions.
We can all use suggestions and tips. We can all teach each other.
I’ve taken so many satisfying directions in my life, and now I am on yet one more path- teaching. I want to be a teacher so I can reduce that drop out rate. I don’t regret my decisions, but I do know that I have struggled over time. I think that if I followed the traditional path some of the downfalls in my life my not have been written on these pages.
I claim many job titles, and I will claim more as I grow up. Sorry Peter Pan…it happens, don’t worry, I’ll make you proud. I’ve claimed barista, teacher, naturalist, camp counselor, director of theater, server, dance teacher, dancer, writer, editor, designer, choreographer, artist, painter, fashion designer, travel agent, dog walker, barista, mom, wife, friend, chef, blogger….
Currently I’ve added, “wine expert in training” to my list of job titles, and I learned today that my co-workers and I have some things in common. We all took some sort of path through the traditional “college” route. (It may have taken me 8 years, but I did it!) There is a nursing major, a film major, another teacher, and even a mathematician. We all work with wine at the moment- but we’re happy. That is what matters.
I’m sure working here has made us access a good bit of information learned in college, like hospitality, and business, art, passion for people, making speeches about wine to big groups, but you get my point. Some people chose a non-traditional route and that worked for them, some people chose a college degree and those pieces of paper and knowledge are what they actually use in the day to day. It is different for everyone.
My mom is 50 and she is back in school, the president of a student club, AND in the Honor’s society- she kicks ASS! Proof it is NEVER too late. Proof you have the option to change your mind.
Now, I don’t want you to think I am all about these job titles I’ve been talking about. It’s not about those at all. It’s about the experiences that come with them. The interactions that I’ve encountered have given me this unmeasured passion for people and learning. The conversations I’ve had and the people who have told me stories. I love hearing stories. Meeting people and listening to them, sharing a moment. Ahhh.
All this to say, through my observation hours this semester I’ve realized that not only does teaching have a huge impact on students, it also comes with a lot of responsibility. Like I said above, we are the ones responsible for getting out students engaged. Being a substitute has proven this weight of teaching to me, and has forced me to consider what kind of teacher I want to be. What kind of effect I want to have on my students. How I will get them interested. I want to somehow give them the experiences I don’t remember having. I figured out that my most important goal through this program is to figure out how to get my students interested in what we are learning.
This next part may sound a bit cheesy due to recent trends, so you may want to grab another glass of wine to go with it.
YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE. Or as the hipsters nowadays like to say “YOLO.”
It’s true. Our lives our fleeting and you’ve got this one chance, this one opportunity to go out and chase your dreams. I’m not saying you can do everything on your bucket list tomorrow. What I AM saying is that you should try.
Personally I plan and hope to die while pursuing at least SOMEthing. I crave more and more knowledge and art and experiences because that is what makes me happy. It makes me grow.
God knows I hate stagnate.
Who knows if I will end up being a teacher in a classroom, or a choreographer who owns studio or a company? Maybe I’ll organize events and parties? Maybe I’ll do all of these things? Maybe I’ll wash dishes for a living? I don’t really care what it is that will get me through but I do care about the people I will meet. It’s all about the interactions. The stories that will make me laugh and cry.
Sweet Jesus I love a good cry.
Finding what we love can change the world. I hated hearing about what happened in my hometown yesterday. Two bombs went off near the Boston Marathon and 3 people died, many more injured. Luckily my friends and family are okay. I just cannot put the pieces together in my mind. Why would anyone want to do such a sad and horrible thing? Gosh. It makes me angry, but more than anything just so sad. It makes me question. What happened to the person who did this?
How can I as a teacher ensure that my students are being smart and making good choices? There comes the responsibility again. And how can I as a parent ensure my kids are being smart and making good choices? Responsibility. Ahhh, there comes the pressure.
I can do this. I can do this. Just keep going, just keep going.
You must do the thing you think you cannot do. –Eleanor Roosevelt
Stop with the violence. Encourage those around you to do better and be better. Pursue what you love, find something to love. Share your life with someone, volunteer, travel, pray. Do what moves you. Some things in life are sad, and hard to get over- but there are people who care. I care.
This is my official virtual hug- I am wrapping my arms around you, yes YOU and I am saying I care. I’m just a measly little lady who has a big punch of passion but I care.
I don’t feel sad for those who cooped up in an office or work a 9-5. I feel sad for those who are cooped up and UNHAPPY…not pursuing what drives them. Some people are happy doing these jobs I consider to be dreadful. “To each his own.” All I am saying is find your passion and find a way to make it what you do for a living. Help someone today. Share a smile. Open a door.
Oh, and please go hug someone today.
I will not post a cheesy hug picture.
I will NOT post a cheesy hug picture.
I will not post it.
DANG IT. JUST LOOK.