25 Years of Teaching. Hard to believe. I knew very early I would be a teacher. I loved making my brother and sister play school. I would make worksheets for them and make them listen and follow the rules. I have told everyone who will listen how excited I was to get my first pack of CARBON PAPER! I could make 2 worksheets at once!
BUT 25 has me thinking. A quarter of a century. I wonder how many people today actually stay in the same job for 25 years.
How have things have changed…but some haven’t.
1. My job
I started as a Teacher for Students with Specific Learning Disabilities.
I was in a K-5 school, where all reading took place from 8-10 am.
SOOOO, all my students would arrive at 8 (all grades) and I was expected to “individualize” instruction.
I tried for 8 years before I left special education. I have moved from teaching students with exceptionalities, to “regular” education (whatever that is) to a Reading Specialist.
The common thread has been a passion for early learning and reading. 25 years of passion.
We didn’t have a “curriculum” when I started, we had a basal.
We used the basal series and if someone started to fall behind, they were sent to the “Child Study Committee” for testing.
As a special education teacher I used Merrill Linguistics for instruction…trying to integrate reading, writing, and “spelling” into these lessons.
Now in the days of Virginia’s Standards of Learning and other state’s Common Core…I’m not sure if we’re better off or not.
Do I believe all children should be exposed to the same curriculum no matter where they live? YES. Do I believe setting a standard creates an expectations? YES. Do I think we need to test, test, test, and retest to “prove” we have taught them? NO. Do I think it’s going away? NO.
Do we have to figure out how to make the students the winners in the education game? ABSOLUTELY.
WOW. When I started teaching we followed the basal.
Everyone read the same story. Everyone got the same test.
We “progressed” to Balanced Literacy and meeting the needs of students at their level.
I wish I could go back and teach my earliest students again.
I feel like I could have been a much better teacher…but, I guess that’s normal. 25 Years.
We have been doing Word Study for the last several years with Words Their Way and Word Journeys. I am surprised how many teachers don’t know the difference between word study and spelling…still. I believe in teaching children word features, so they can transfer the knowledge to writing.
When I was in college, we had to learn how to use the purple mimeograph machine. After we made the worksheet (either on a typewriter or hand written), we would run the machine trying carefully not to get it on your clothes and trying not to inhale all the fumes.
Now, with resources on-line, like Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher’s Notebook to name a few, and on-line videos (no reel to reel movies), teacher blogs, and just a google search…it’s rare you can’t find something to help with the perfect lesson. 25 years.
6. Field Trips
When I first started teaching, these were guaranteed. We went on several every year and they were FUN! Our system has cut our primary grades to one trip with school buses and one on charter buses.
They are regulated and justified. This makes me the saddest. Some students never left their neighborhood unless it was on a field trip. One year, my students wrote letters to a friend in the military. When he returned from his tour, we took a school bus to the Navy base 25 minutes away.
They toured the ship and saw the water and loved every minute of it. I wish this was still a priority.
From overheads to SMART Boards, reel to reel to HD Video clips, cassettes to DVDs, and everything in between.
If you aren’t proficient on the computer or with technology, this job can leave you behind.
8. Teacher Stores
Target Dollar Spot and Dollar Tree has changed the way teacher’s shop. When I first started you needed a trip to the teacher store to outfit your classroom for the year. You looked through catalogs and hoped the theme you wanted wouldn’t be gone by the time you got to the store.
Today, Target and Dollar Tree have classroom resources at our fingertips. From bulletin boards to organizers, everything you need is within reach.
9. Professional Learning Communities
No longer do we go into our classrooms, shut the doors, and teach “our class” what we want. Now there are resource people (like me) pushing in to help, coach and remediate.
We use collaboration time to look at all the students and determine who needs what globally. We all take pride and responsibility to all our students.
I do think I’ve changed…but, for the better I think.
I’m eager to learn a newer, better way to help all students.
I am eager to help colleagues and LOVE LOVE LOVE teacher training.
I am willing to jump in and help where I’m needed.
But my love of teaching hasn’t changed. It is the job for me.
Teaching, both students and teachers, is in my blood and my heart. I believe in teaching as a profession and try to remain professional at all times. I am THRILLED my oldest will be joining the profession in 2 years, even if he wants to be a MATH teacher.
I am honored to be a teacher.
That’s what it’s all about. I LOVE teaching. 25 years…and I’m still going.