Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Love Teaching Because...

"Teacher of the Gifted, not the Gifted Teacher."  Those who know me well know that I utter those words often.  Usually when I've done something completely boneheaded -- like yesterday when I answered an email about a membership form I should have turned in a week ago by inadvertently hitting "REPLY ALL", instead of just reply, with "I need a firm."

Age may have its privileges, but fifty-three year old eyes should not be trusted to respond to emails on the screen of a small smartphone screen without the aid of reading glasses.

The entire district of teachers received that email.  And I've been asked by more than a few people whether I was looking for a legal firm or a firm massage.    You see, it's difficult being held to the standard of the "Gifted Teacher."

There's a certain assumption that if you teach the best and the brightest, you can should do no wrong.  It's a big responsibility having impressionable young minds refer to you as "The Gifted Teacher".  It's also incredibly rewarding.  So when I reviewed the question of the day from the fine folks at Te@chthought, I really struggled to answer the question succinctly. 

September 4th

4.  What do you love the most about teaching?

  This is one of those questions that most people expect teachers to answer with "The kids, of course!"  Because I try my best not to conform, or at least I try hard not to say the expected, I have struggled to say what I expect everyone else responding to this challenge is saying.  (I expect it of my learners, why should I hold myself to a different standard?)  To some extent, I view the wording of this question to be "What do I find most rewarding about teaching?"  Because I believe my answer to be one and the same.

The thing I love/find most rewarding is the amazing feedback of appreciation I get from my learners.  Most junior high and high school teachers don't get those fuzzy wuzzy impromptu gifts, wilting dandelions from the playground, or crayoned notes of appreciation from kiddos on torn construction paper.  Those sorts of mementos that get filed in the Happy File that we all keep (or should, if you don't), to review on days when you are so close to the edge of despair that you actually consider attending a PSERS seminar on retirement.

For me, this feedback means that the connections made -- whether in their own brains, with other individuals in the class, or with a mentor with whom I am able to connect them -- are meaningful learning experiences.

I have the most amazing learners, who surprise me each and every day.  Here are a few examples from the last year that validated me -- consider them Secondary Level Warm Fuzzies. 

The Annual Gifted Breakfast

About ten years ago, I realized how much my high school students missed the recent graduates. It has now become tradition to invite the alumni gifted and talented students, and current G/T high school students, to breakfast at a local diner on the morning before Thanksgiving. (At their own expense, mind you!)  Every year, I start my holiday weekend catching up, and connecting alumni with kids with similar interests.  There are more than a few gravity-defying sculptures that are created every year - see photo above - and watching the connections and hearing the success stories of college life and beyond is truly one of the highlights of my year -- reinforcing why I LOVE TEACHING.

The surprise arrival of some of my seniors at my house immediately after graduation - still in their caps and gowns - after I was unable to attend graduation due to knee surgery.  

(The picture was too large to put on the blog without crashing it -- if you care, you can view it here, but I'm sure you get the idea!)

Written responses reflecting on the semester by some high school students.  (With no direction to stretch themselves by writing anything but a few paragraph reflection...)

1 comment:

  1. I like your answer about the sense of appreciation students convey. I don't know if there is any thrill a professional can have that is greater than a students' acknowledgment of how one helped them grow.