Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The gift of teaching

My role as a mom is what defines me.  There is no greater feeling than when your kids smile and run toward you with open arms, excited to see you after a brief absence.  I strive each day to become better at creating my definition to the best of my ability. 

But, while 'mom' makes up the greatest part of my persona, I also carry other roles in my bag of tricks.  Another huge piece of my life outside of our home is being a teacher.  I have wanted to teach since I was 5 years old in Mrs. Toney's classroom.  My first grade teacher, Mrs. Boyd added quite a bit of fuel to the fire I carried for the art of teaching.  And so continued the trend, where each year I gleaned more than just an elementary, middle, and high school education from my teachers.  I watched them, studied them, and found ways in nearly every one of them to emulate.  Each of them has become a piece of my teaching quilt with which I wrap myself in confidence each day that I do my work.  In addition, I have encountered some amazing mentors, one of which who has known me since I was in grade school, who have added pieces to my quilt as well.

Teaching a big job.  It's not something I take lightly, especially at this time of year, as I prepare to send my current students on to the next level.  I know I remember my grade school teachers, and I realize that they'll remember something (I hope good!) about me as well.  Next year, the students I taught the very first year of my career are preparing to graduate and enter into the next phase of their lives.  Through the gloriousness of social networking, I am still in touch with a few of them, and there are few greater feelings in the world as a teacher to be in touch with students from previous years.  I can't even verbalize how amazing it is to see them as they grow and recognize that one (or more) of the pages of their lives has been penned by me. 

Tonight, I had the chance to see some of my former students who have moved into middle school.  Tonight, they came back to school to watch our drama club performance of Aladdin.  I have had the supreme privilege of directing the drama club for the past 6 years.  As a third grade teacher, it is fun to be able to work with those students who are in fourth and fifth, because I've known them as students, but now get to see them in a whole new (spot)light.  And, wow.  Did they ever impress me tonight. 

Our cast and crew have worked many hours, listening to me ramble on and on about how to act a particular scene, having to re-do things again and again until they have it *just right*, and learning dozens and dozens of lines and songs to boot.  All for one hour of the most pride-filled moments of their school year.  How do I know?  The smiles on their faces were ear to ear, the excitement and animation they had in their actions and voices as they perfomed for their parents was unparamounted, and the tears in my eyes were not well contained. 

I am so grateful for the dedication of the cast and crew, and the pride with which they carried their performance tonight.  I am grateful for the amazing ladies I co-directed with, and most especially for the parents, grandparents, and other family members who went *above* and beyond in countless ways donating time, money, talents, and labor into making the performance look as amazing as the kids made it sound. 

The gloriousness of being a teacher is that I have the opportunity to shape a piece of the life of a whole child.  Many 'whole childs' (yes, I know...a teacher should know that childs isn't a word...but as I teach my students, a writer has the power of a creative license).  The chance to inspire just one of the countless kids I've worked with in drama club and taught in my classroom is a precious gift to me, that fills me with pride in a way that is reminiscent of how I feel as a mom. 

There is no greater feeling than when your kids smile and run toward you with open arms after a brief absence.  Even if their not technically 'your' kids, and even if that absence extends into months and years.

absolutely incredible scenery painted by the aunt of one of my cast members

our awesome marketplace scene

the desert oasis scene

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