Teacher Appreciation Day

Like most “National Recognition Days”, appreciation for teachers should happen not just one day of the year – but 365. Unless you have put in the labor or have witnessed it first-hand, you really do not understand what it takes to educate the world’s future generations.  I will keep my soap box off to the side and not get into the gripes and grievances towards those who still consider teachers as “glorified babysitters”, or how we are fairly paid, or how vacation days are not needed seeing as “THEY HAVE THE WHOLE SUMMERS OFF”, etc., ect.

Instead, I would like to recognize the teachers that have made an impact in my life specifically. When asked who my favorite teachers are, these few never fail to come to mind. They were not always the nicest or the easiest, but they each stand out to me in a particular way.

Mrs. Hansbarger:

If you graduated from Grand Ledge Public Schools, chances are you know Mrs. Hansbarger. This lady was the grandma that you never had. She was my kindergarten teacher that showed me play time was crucial to learning. Her classroom was a massive space with a playhouse that – with her imagination – was often changed between a country house, to a pizza parlor, to a local grocery market. The fact that Mrs. Hansbarger showed her compassion and her love for her students made her approachable with good news and bad news. When I was in kindergarten, Garrison was born and I was a new, big sister. Mrs. Hansbarger took a special trip to my house to meet my new baby brother because she knew how special he was to me. The love and genuine care she showed to her students is something I will never forget.

Mr. Helmic:

When a young Alexandra entered the crazy world of middle school in 6th grade, she was scared and intimidated. However, I feel that this is where my charming personality and phenomenal sense of humor developed. This can be directly related back to Mr. Helmic, my 6th grade ELA teacher. Mr. Helmic was a new teacher, handsome, and also SUPER funny. He made learning one of my least favorite subjects fun. He introduced projects that displayed our creativity and humor instead of forcing us to write essays on essays. He shared personal stories with us of his adventures and his schooling experiences. He made himself human and showed that teachers were not just people who sat behind a desk grading papers, but enjoyed getting to know his students and joke around with them. He showed that teaching and learning was fun and became the inspiration that brought me to this career.

Mrs. Janes:

If you know anything about me, you know how important American History is to me. I have a passion for teaching social studies which developed from my 8th grade U.S. History teacher, Mrs. Janes. Talk about making history come alive in her class. When we learned about the pirates and early explorers of the Caribbean, she turned our desks into pirate ships. When we embarked on the Civil War, we each became soldiers of either the Union or Confederate army and competed with the other side to see who would win the war. Mrs. Janes not only made learning exciting, but she displayed why it was important and how it impacts us today. She made U.S. history meaningful and amazing – which has clearly stuck with me 10 years later.

Mr. Beauman:

Science has never been my forte. I have this mindset that, if someone has already figured out why two hydrogens and one oxygen makes water, then I do not need to understand why this works. I know this isn’t the best of thinking, but my opinion. Mr. Beauman understood this. He knew that not everyone would get the importance of science, but still made his instruction more interesting and exciting. He wanted to make sure that you understood the basic concepts and then have the minor details come later. He was easy going and he took your opinions into consideration. It wasn’t “his way or the highway”, he simply valued hard work – which is something I admire.

Norma Bailey:

“Hello, hello, hello!” Every week, Dr. Norma Bailey would start that week’s lecture the same way. With arms wide open, she would then take 15 minutes of her lesson to hear her kids’ thoughts of good news, bad news, or any news. For a college professor, this is a rarity. Norma brought me under her wing, like all her little ducklings, and showed me my potential. She not only helped me grow as an educator, but as a human being as well. As a college student, I thought my views and ideas were set. She challenged my beliefs and made me look at the world in a different perspective. To say that this had an effect on me is an understatement. She changed the way I handle difficult people (students or colleagues), how to address social issues, and how to embrace the diversity of our world. Norma is one of the few people in my life that I can email my grievances, my worries, or silly questions to without the fear of being judged or embarrassed. Only those who have had Dr. Bailey understand why we do things in life; to simply find our starfish.

 

I have had many great teachers in my academic career. It might take me awhile to remember all of these teachers, but these few will never be forgotten. They each stand out specifically for one reason – what they did, not what they taught. I do not remember for what state standards they taught me. I remember them because of the life lessons I gained from each one. I found my passions from these teachers and each one has shaped me to be the person I am today.

This is why teachers need to be appreciated not just one day a year, but every day. Great teachers do not teach to simply check off the standards each year, we teach to shape lives.

I will bet my high-ranked salary on the fact that each and everyone of us are the person we are today because of one or a few teachers. It is about time more and more people realize this fact.

Appreciate your teachers. They undoubtedly deserve it.

 

In Order To Write a New Chapter, You Must Close The One You’re On

I started student teaching straight scared. Up until then, I had been in my fair share of classrooms and spent time with some great students. However, this time was the big show. This time, I had somewhat of a major responsibility. This time, it meant something.

I remember thinking that there was no way I could willingly walk into this classroom where who knew if the students would take me seriously and teach them what they need to learn. How would I be able to create and implement lesson plans without simply just being told what to teach?? How am I up to par with experienced teachers to be able to collaborate with them and make my voice and opinions heard amongst theirs???

It was scary stuff.

The thing with scary stuff though is that when you jump in, though you’re eyes are shut tight, whether you like it or not, you’re in it. It’s just up to you to make the best of it.

Looking back, I think it’s funny how scared I really was. Even though it was a new chapter in life teaching is something I was made to do! It’s what comes natural to me and I find my home easily within a classroom.

Did I have rough days where I contemplated why I made this decision of going into teaching? Oh, absolutely. Did I snap out of it within an hour or so by remembering something a student did or say that same day that was hilarious? Obviously.

I was welcomed into the Washington Woods family and found my place quickly. I made strong relationships with students and staff that I will hold as the standard for any other school I become a part of. You never realize the importance of people’s presence in your life until there is an absence of it. Saying goodbye to The Woods was a great realization for me. It was so hard for me to leave this supportive staff and relationships I had built with students – which showed how important this support was to me. It showed me that this is the kind of school and support system I need to become successful.

On my last day I was showered with hugs, drawings, mementos, things students had made, candy, cookies, and overall lots of love. Even the students who are constantly on their own planet and did not give me any indication they knew I existed gave me ‘I’ll Miss You’ notes. Needless to say I bawled my eyes out – approximately six times.

I would have never thought that it would be so hard to close a chapter of my life that I was so scared to start. With this closing chapter I am writing a new one. I might label it “Job Search”, but I hope I can think of something more witty soon. The cover art of said chapter is of me in my Abraham Lincoln t-shirt, holding my diploma from Central Michigan University in one hand and my Michigan Teaching Certificate in the other, and facing the world … (maybe listening to Ed Sheehan. I haven’t decided).

You might say that I am scared again. I wouldn’t say so. I would describe it as somewhat cool and collected, but only enough to mask the panicked-give-me-a-brown-bag version of myself in the inside.

So with this new chapter, here I am jumping. I have my eyes shut tight again and my fingers crossed hoping I don’t land on my face. I’m hoping that when I look back I, again, find it funny that I’m terrified at the start. Either way one has to jump.

I mean, it isn’t going to write itself – right?

 

 

 

 

Leadership Safari 2014

This past week I was very fortunate to be able to be a part of CMU’s Leadership Safari. This program is put on during the week before the fall semester starts for new students coming to CMU’s campus. Though the majority of these students are freshmen – I had the great pleasure in working with a group of transfer students. Throughout the week, students sit through an array of speakers, activities, and other undergo other experiences to better themselves as a leader and overall person. Along with this, they alsoare able to move to campus a week earlier than everyone else and get a more familiar grasp on Central as a whole.10514473_10202853370750413_1093436684468699746_n
My week was an amazing one. I had ten transfer students out of about 100. I made connections with everyone and saw them grow together as a group from the awkward first meeting to the emotional last meeting. Throughout the week, my students shared things they said they normally do not share with others. For example, one of my students said that her parents are recently divorced when her mom came out as a lesbian. She said that her mom now has a significant other and she was talking about how she has been affected because of it.

Another student of mine said that he is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and that he was not sure if Leadership Safari was the right program for him to partake in.

10355883_10202853369950393_3292025600691122277_nAfter saying this, he continued to explain that other people have told him he is “better off in his grave” because of his diagnosis. Hearing this, my heart broke. My other participants’ mouths dropped to the floor and could not believe the cruelty people could have in order to say these things. My participants told this student how brave he was to continue on and not let people bring him down. His face lit up and made my heart grow strong.

At the end of the week, I did an activity with my participants; The Touch Someone Activity. In this activity, I had my students sit down and close their eyes. When I tapped someone on the shoulder, they were to stand up and follow my instructions I say out loud; “touch someone that has inspired you”, “touch someone that you can see being friends with for a long time”, “touch someone that has changed your viewpoints on things”, etc. It was so amazing to be on the outside and look at everyone touch someone who has made their week an amazing one. Once someone was touched, they still had his/her eyes closed, but the way his/her face lit up was such a great thing to see.10351453_10202853371510432_4468720802463873071_n

I also did warm fuzzies with these students and after they handed them back to me, I was able to see what everyone wrote about everyone else and it was so fulfilling. Taking these students who did not know anything about CMU or the other people in this group to being excited about the upcoming semester and depending on the people in the group.

This experience has shown me just how important creating a community among people is crucial. You need to set standards, create connections, and create that respect. I am positive this group of individuals will be able to rely on one another even though Safari has ended – which makes me a very proud Safari Guide.

My Place in the Middle

And just like that, I have officially completed the Middle Level Program at CMU.

IMG_6647I came into CMU knowing I wanted to teach — but teach who? It wasn’t until Dr. Norma Bailey came into my ‘Introduction to Education’ class that my eyes were opened. She talked about what it took to be a Middle Level Educator and how different middle schoolers were compared to high schoolers and elementary school students. She challenged us to observe in a middle school where we could learn first-hand whether or not middle school students could make or break us – so I did.

 

I observed at my old middle school – which just so happened to be my younger brother’s current school. I fell in love immediately. Just by observing during that week, I realized how funny young adolescents were and how great of a fit it was for me to work with them. I had to be a part of this Middle Level Program.

That decision has been the best decision I have made thus far in my life.

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By being a part of this program these past two years, I have grown as a teacher, a student, and overall a human being. Dr. Norma Bailey has inspired me to stand strong to the values and beliefs that I cherish as a person and a teacher that I will forever hold on to. My fellow 27 other peers, quickly turned into friends and are now forever my family. Thank you to everyone who joined me in this journey and who supported me in finding my place in the Middle ❤