Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Reflections on a year....

I have been thinking about this blog for a while, but having recently been called out by a great colleague, @lirenmanlearns for not responding right away, I have decided to finally sit down and put my thoughts on "paper".

Here is the challenge that was put out there: What did you learn this past (or, for our southern hemisphere friends, what ARE you learning this current) school year that you couldn’t have learned any other year, from any other students or colleagues or administrators or parents? What lessons did this particular year, this particular setting, these particular children bring into your life?
posted by @happycampergirl for #Kinderchat #Kinderblog2012 Challenge

For me the question is not what did I learn, the question is what didn't I learn this year? I will say that in my 11 years of teaching, this was the year that really changed me in many ways. Not only did my teaching practices change through the use of Ipads, twitter and the document camera/projector combo that I love, so  did my view on my teaching. 

More than any other year, this year challenged me. This year challenged me emotionally, physically and professionally. As I sit here and reflect on the year, I realize that I have grown more as an educator this year than in any of the previous 11. This class that I just wrapped up made me question everything! 

I have had NUMEROUS conversations this year with my colleagues and admin about my class and the challenges we have been through  the course of 10 months. It has not been an easy year, but the 19 kids that I have worked with this year have changed me in ways that they will never know! Here is just one example of how I have grown this year...

Working in an inner city school I have always known that school is the only stable part of life for many of the children we work with. This became clear to me this year when in May one of my students started having anxiety about and acting out in class. This caused her to act out in inappropriate ways towards myself and others. I was left there asking myself why is this happening? Why now? What is going on to cause this sudden change?

It wasn't until I took a step back and pulled her aside to talk with her that I realized the root of the problem...she didn't want to leave me and have a new teacher in September. As a K teacher, I have had this told to me a many times, and usually a big hug and telling them that I will always be here visit and telling them that they will love their grade 1 teacher just as much (or more than me) has been enough. In this case it wasn't. She wanted to know from me, that no matter what she was doing, that I still cared about her as a person.

She and I agreed that I would write a special letter just for her and give it to her on the last day of school to help her get through the summer. I didn't realize just how important that was to her, until every day for the 14 days prior to school ending she reminded me of the letter. This is when it hit me....I have been the stable force in her life for the past 10 months and through it all, I have always believed in her, even when she didn't believe in herself. That letter meant more to her than anything else because to her, it meant that someone (besides her family) cared about her unconditionally. She also needed to know that I was going to follow through on my promise, something I am sure many people in her life have not done. Asking me daily was not her way of annoying me, it was her way of letting me know just how important this was to her.

Writing that letter made me cry, but it also made me happy to remember why it is I teach Kindergarten. I teach kindergarten because the BIGGEST part of my job it take  these 4 and 5 years olds and get them off to a good start in school; make them LOVE learning and to let them know that people care. If these kids leave my room in June loving school, loving learning, knowing how to treat people well and ready to explore the world.....then I have done my job! This girl will never remember the math or reading lessons that we did, but she will ALWAYS remember that I cared about her and that is more valuable than any lesson I could even teach my class. I want to thank her for reminding why I LOVE my job!!!


  1. Great post Jodi and now you're all set up for the next challenge which comes out on Friday. :-) Karen

  2. Loved the post Jodi. I almost cried! Glad your colleague called you out and that you took the time to write it.

  3. Tears!! Wonderful post Jodi! I'm so glad that little one had you as a teacher this year! So thoughtful to think of the letter! That's something she will treasure forever!

    You are so right that its not about math or reading. Kindergarten, school, childhood and life are all about LOVE. Thanks for teaching her that priceless lesson.

  4. Great post Jodi. Your student will treasure that letter. You are a very caring Kindergarten teacher!

  5. Thanks for sharing that letter is either tucked under her pillow at night or hanging on her wall