Day 9: Change

Day 9: Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).

Initially I set out to dig deep through my teaching past and uncover a special gem of a triumph, hopefully one that was not publicly known, and retell the story of my greatest achievement.

I looked back on my years as an elementary school teacher and thought about all the kids I had, sorting through the memories, searching for a long lost success. My brain wandered over to data gains that I made with those students in 4th & 5th grade. There was a time when I was very proud of that feat, but already three years later, it doesn't bring me as much accomplishment than it did back then.

Yesterday I reminded a student that I had back in elementary school, who I have again this year as an 8th grader, of the time he accidentally laid down on a cactus plant during an outdoor exploration field trip experiential activity. His shorts were covered with the thorns and we got left behind as we I carefully plucked each individual prickly spine out from his clothes.

Maybe my biggest accomplishment is something I did for a student or a connection I made with a family? What is my biggest accomplishment?

I think my biggest accomplishment is making the jump from elementary to middle school.

As excited as I was for the older students and focused content area that I would be teaching, I was nervous. I had found great success teaching elementary students and I was in a great place in my building. I was on track to be a math intervention specialist for primary students. My team was awesome (I miss them). My grade-level teammate was an amazing guy who lived his life with such great integrity. And I was taller than all most of my students. I was comfortable.

Was I going to find anything close to that in middle school?

I'm glad that I made the switch. It put me in a new environment that tested my skills, perspective and passion for teaching. In elementary school, I was teaching math, reading, writing, handwriting, science, spelling and social studies. I thought that I would end up teaching one subject in middle school. I middle school, I've taught sixth grade math, sixth grade science, sixth grade social studies, sixth, seventh and eighth grade choir and now eighth grade math.

I am definitely not comfortable yet, but that's a good thing. I remember my first year teaching, never wanting to be complacent. Never wanting to be teaching the same thing every year for the rest of my life. I did not want to be the teacher who taught second grade for fifteen years, as amazing and fantastic as they would be. I just wanted to be a good teacher.