I was out to dinner last night with my husband, and we were talking about when teaching “clicks.” Somehow, somewhere along the way, teaching became second nature. Of course, I’ve known since I was 12 that I wanted to teach–and every experience as a volunteer or intern, along with the quality secondary education program at Calvin that molded me towards the teacher I am today–but I am, at last, the teacher I’ve always wanted to be.

I no longer struggle to hold my students’ attention while fumbling for the next worksheet– I continue to hold their attention naturally, or confidently get their attention back after a moment. Now, I’m a step ahead–I can think about what notes they should have out before we leave for a bathroom break, so that I can immediately jump into the next activity when we return to the classroom. Managing student groups is no longer intimidating. I no longer watch the clock, anxious about how to fill the last 10 minutes. Instead, I prep them for the next lesson or remind them of a feature on Edmodo to use for their homework. I keep my expectations high, and keep my promises of getting them to where they need to be–not just for passing a class, but for life.
Even better than succeeding with basic classroom management, I can focus on the relationships with my students, rather than the grades. I can intentionally direct my attention to one student at a time, because I believe that feeling known and loved by a teacher is important to student success and autonomy. (Thank you, Professor William VandeKopple, for teaching me that.) I can enjoy sharing a photo of my dog or a story about my life, because it’s important that my students know who I am, too. I’ve learned to give respect first, and then expect it back. I see my students as individuals with brains, who crave adult attention and the opportunity to practice acting like one. And when they do act like the kids they still are, like my sweet student who came to me Friday looking for a Band-aid, I can love on them and give a smile or hug. They still need me to let them know everything’s going to be okay. Because it will be. I believe in the success of every single one of my kids.
I’ve come so far since my first year in the classroom. And now, as I’m at the threshold of that crucial 4 year mark, where half of teachers decide to leave the profession, I can’t imagine doing anything else with the rest of my life.
I am a Teacher.

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