Friday, February 19, 2016

Seven Year Stretch

My blog has been a little quiet this week. Two of the link-ups I was hoping to join never came to fruition. I was hoping to Share Sunshine and join Technology Thursday, but the hosts must have had a busy week. (Hint! Hint! Please post soon!) I set a professional goal and New Year's resolution to blog three times per week. With only one post down this week, I am free styling today.

This May, I will have completed my seventh year of teaching. During graduate school, I learned that lasting change takes seven years. If I were to compare my current teacher self to the newbie walking into the classroom for the first time, what would I find?
  1. I am more creative. I am not creative by nature, but my experience in the lower elementary has stretched me to find my creative bug. Today, my Pinterest boards are full of ideas, my student work is colorful, and my classroom is bright. Don't you enjoy learning when your space looks pretty?
  2. My classroom is well-stocked. I started with a few books in one or two genres from my childhood, hand-me-down resources, and a few gifts from student teaching. Today, TPT, IKEA, and Target have all greatly benefited from my classroom - as do my students! While I enjoy buying things to improve learning and enhance the experience, I rarely feel like I need something for my classroom.
  3. My schedule feels manageable. As a first year teacher, I started the year feeling overwhelmed, progressed through the year trying to keep up, and finished feeling like I wanted to do it over. In all honestly, I know that those feelings come from my perfectionist mindset. However, there is a great comfort at seven years when you understand the pacing that comes with teaching. You have time for more projects and a personal life!
  4. My students are better learners in all subjects. Each year, I went through a subject to improve my instructional strategies and developing my knowledge of a successful student in that area. Faith activities that connect to real life, math centers that allow for individual pacing and gaming, self-selected reading, writing traits, storytelling social studies, and science experiments make a great recipe for classroom success.
  5. I have had many experiences. In seven years, I have taught in four states, four grades, six classrooms, and way more curricula than I care to count. And I am a better teacher for it. I have worked with families from many backgrounds, have a strong understanding of the skills necessary in elementary school, always have a fresh learning space, and know what will produce a strong learner. Bring on year 8!
  6. I have a better understanding of child development. The first year me didn't realize that kids should be kids. My classroom always ran a little on the grown-up side. Today, I love the benefits of art projects, brain breaks, and colorful classrooms. We still are focused on learning, but I keep in mind that a classroom should be a fun place to go.
  7. I am so blessed by the faith growth God has allowed me to witness in my ministry. Of all the changes on this list, this one was the least expected and most loved. Yesterday, I saw an old Facebook post (no names mentioned) of a sweet story from a student who learned about Jesus for the first time at school. Images of these kids never leave my mind. They have received the ultimate gift - one that cannot be lost and lasts forever.
No matter your years of experience, how has God blessed you with growth in your teaching ministry?