Heavy Heart

I have a heavy heart this morning.  I just watched a video of a teacher resigning.  Her story is pretty much my story.

I had always wanted to be a teacher.  I can remember coming home from elementary school and “teaching” my younger brother (7 years younger) what I had learned that day.  Poor little kid.

I did go to college and earn my teaching degree.  I remember my first day at my first school.  It was a large, old middle school in Albuquerque.  Under the windows were book shelves with some, not many, old books.  Those were my textbooks.  That’s all I had.  Fortunately my primary educator in college was a strong, firm, classic stereo typical school marm who taught us how to make due and to make our own.  I loved my students and I loved my job.  I got to develop lesson plans, curriculum, and assignments.

Over the years, I’ve taught all sorts of kids: learning disabled, gifted, learning disabled with giftedness, “regular” kids, kindergarten through eighth grades.

I love teaching.  I loved making a difference in students’ lives by letting them know that I care about them and their future.  I love encouraging them to be the best people they can be.  One of the most treasured, and frequent, compliments I received was, “Your students are so polite and caring.”

I also loved creating curriculum and assignments.  Sure, one can purchase these easily enough, but I enjoyed creating them myself.  I didn’t do all of it myself, but I did quite a bit.  One of my favorite units was “Colonial America.”  The end product was turning the classroom into a little colonial village.  We had a candle shop where students made candles, a seamstress where students learned to embroider, and others.  Another favorite was our invention convention.  The students learned about inventors and their inventions and then created their own inventions.  My personal favorite was learning about properties by studying “Oobleck” and trying to determine if it was a solid or liquid or both.  My dad worked at Sandia National Labs and I told the students that this strange sample came to him from Mars and that he asked us to help him by studying it.  They weren’t quite sure to believe me or not-but they loved it too and learned a lot.

These are fond memories.  What makes my heart heavy is that the way education is going, with so much standardized testing,  students no longer get to learn in fun and meaningful ways.  My profession left me behind.