Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why I Became A Teacher

     Her name was Ms. King. She was a tall sort of a willowy lady with brown wavy hair and I just so happened to adored her. She was my first grade teacher at a small private school I attended while my daddy went to PSU. Her eyes twinkled and her warmth was genuine. Her words were that of encouragement as we learned. She sat by the piano and sang. I still have the song book she made. She showed us grace and kindness by praying for us & sharing in our joys. Even though we did have a chapel time, she always extended that to how she taught in the classroom, as it should be.

     When I close my eyes, I am still in first grade. So many favorite memories from that '78-'79 school year flood my mind! The friendships I had like with Carolene, Eric and Kelly, my very lovely Holly Hobbie lunch box and the fact that I had no teeth in front. However, the one I love the most is when we were allowed to stay overnight at the house Miss King shared with her mom in State College. I recall the books she read, the ice cream treats at Meyer's Dairy and the breakfast she made of pancakes. She had a sofa chair that turned into a bed. I thought it was magical.

     I have a photo of myself at her house. A snap shot of innocence. I love that photo so much. It reminds me of my goal. My goal is life is simple, love God, love people and serve the world, and Ms. King did just that. She still continues serving the Lord working at Walter Reed Medical Center by bringing cheer with puppets to the patients there. We were here last class. She would forthrightly tell you that we were her favorite class.
Me at Miss King's House!
My eyes were upon her all the way. From her example and from the example of my parents who were educators, I knew that the desire of my heart since I was three was right on track. I wanted to teach. I would teach my stuffed animals and dolls. I would later play school at the house with friends, willing or unwilling. There was no other profession that I wanted.

    Now, to get to this point of twenty years in the business, I have had to take a few routes, mostly staying in Elementary Education and it was a process of knowing what I didn't want to teach like high school! Even the year I taught high school technology classes I though perhaps, I was a fish out of water, but I did it anyhow. That is what I do. Now I combine everything I do with the things I love, elementary teaching, technology, reading and learning about the world around us in as many wonderful “PIRATE” ways as possible.
I have finished reading, How To Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess. He is part of my PLN on Twitter. In that book, he discusses ways to increase student engagement, become a creative teacher and how to transform your life as an educator. It was just the book needed for someone who is done with her 20th year of teaching! I did take sometime to reflect on this book and how it applied to my life on my blog I will quote myself by saying “Sometimes, I think teachers are afraid of student engagement and innovation. They think they will loose control. In fact, they see their job all wrong, teaching is not about control. It is about facilitating students to find their shape and passion and go forward into this world as agents of ideas, change and making our world a better place." Teachers are parents, youth group counselors, staff at a school, paras...we have to work together to raise up the next generation, help them and encourage them. 

     I also believe with a passion that teachers hide behind worksheets and call it teaching. It is not. Teachers as dictators is old and dead, teachers as learners co-existing with students and parents in creating and cultivating a learning environment seed by seed is  where the best of the best takes place. Next year, I can't wait to create a global classroom by making more videos, helping the students create their own podcast, and finding a classroom both in this country and one around the world to connect with. What a wonderful world! Indeed! Learning together and from each other....awesome.”As I start my 21st year of being a professional educator, I remember the following very well.: I am NOT the teacher. I am the lead learner. I will approach the next years of my professional experience in that regard. I will continue to learn from those around me, my students, my co workers, the parents that I serve. I am addicted to learning and passionate about teaching students how to learn.

     God is the abundant giver of passion. He created it. With passion he made all things. Not by some sort of slapstick moment of chaos, but with a heart filled with deep desire to create a world for us to live in and find “good.” As you may have already read yourself, I too have read the PurposeDriven Life by Rick Warren. In it there are five clear purposes:
  • 1)  Love God with all your heart.  You were planned for God’s pleasure, so your purpose is to love God through worship.
  • 2)  Love your neighbor as yourself.  You were shaped for serving, so your purpose is to show love for others through ministry.
  • 3)  Go and make disciples.  You were made for a mission, so your purpose is to share God’s message through evangelism.
  • 4)  Baptize them into…  You were formed for God’s family, so your purpose is to identify with his church through fellowship.
  • 5)  Teach them to do all things.   You were created to become like Christ, so your purpose is to grow to maturity through discipleship. (FromThe Purpose Driven Life)
It is with this book in mind that I approach teaching with a Christian world view. I love my students very much and my job is to serve them and their families, in that sense and specifically because I teach in the area where I work, I am loving my neighbor. I am also loving my neighbor when I deal respectfully with my co-workers in a professional manner. I am not able to be a vocal evangelist at school for my faith, but that doesn't matter because actions speak louder than words, so I am the hands and feet of the Most High God who sends me to do his work. I can't baptize them, but I can touch their hearts and teach them and learn with them along the way. I can do my best to point them in the right direction to go. It is an honor to serve the Lord in this capacity. My local church Horizons Community Church has a simple mission statement that I love, "Love God, Love People, Serve the World!" I apply that to my life and my role as a teacher. 

     Twenty years has gone by fast, but what I have learned along the way will last a lifetime. I am a learner, it is my superpower, and I know I was put on this Earth to be a lead learner in a classroom and facilitate learning in the hearts and minds of generations to come. What a honor! I believe that is the way my precious Miss King saw things too, in fact, because I am still in contact with her quite often, I know that to be the case. Indeed, I learned from the very, very best her and my parents.