Third grade. That was the year I became a learner. It was also a year full of challenges I would not wish upon any third-grader.
On one particularly challenging day, I was sitting alone at recess. After a humiliating lunch of sitting alone, I was ready to hide in a hole and be transported home. I desperately wanted to not be noticed. But, I noticed a shadow approaching and the slight ring of “Christy” coming my way. I looked up and there stood my teacher, Mrs. Estes. I can’t say whether I was embarrassed or relieved that my teacher had broken my silence. Whatever that feeling was quickly changed when I noticed that she had two students behind her.
By the time I was in third grade, I had some clear passions that I made evident through my dress. I only wore race shirts I had earned in road (running) and track meets. My shorts were fitting of a runner. And, I only wore Nikes. I had a Nike binder, bag, shoes, shirts, and shorts. In short, they called me “Nike Queen.” From Mrs. Estes’ perspective, there was no doubt I LOVED running.
Mrs. Estes greeted me and introduced the two students as classmates of mine. She noted that they were interested in running road races and that I would be the perfect person to talk to. I was fearful of talking to other students. However, Mrs. Estes pinned with with a barrage of questions. Quickly, I assumed position as the leader of all things running. And, I was talking on my own to the other students.
It was after that moment that I found my identity – I was the runner. That changed over time, but it provide me a sense of pride and a safe place that I had never found before. And, for that I am forever grateful to Mrs. Estes.
So, what did she do? What made her special? Simply put – she listened and she gave me the chance to find my own passion and be an expert. Listening is one of the best skills and gifts a person can offer to another.
When I became a teacher, I set out with Mrs. Estes in mind. She was my ideal teacher and the kind of teacher I wanted to be. And, I can’t say that my approach is all that different from hers. However, I am different. That is the factor we forget as we become teachers. We can mimic an approach, but we are different. We have had different life experiences and different moments of inspiration. Mrs. Estes inspired me but someone else inspired her.
So, as I have grown into my teaching shoes, I have changed. My outlook is still similar to Mrs. Estes, but because of my life experiences – because of people like Mrs. Estes – my approach has changed. I work to empower teachers and students like Mrs. Estes did, but I also work to innovate my classroom in ways others don’t. And, I work to innovate it because of students who have crossed my path.
I had those moments like Mrs. Estes had with me when she taught. They changed my teaching just as I may have changed her teaching. And, gradually, I became the innovative, creative teacher. I became the artist and runner that she brought out in me.
How are you different? Share #YourEdustory