Change is something I really don’t do well. I am an extreme planner, many times to a fault.
A year-and-a-half ago (finishing my student teaching) my plans were shaken when I was offered a teaching position in 5th grade (not primary). I wrote about my feelings – the not-so-positive-ones, and you all commiserated with me, promising me it would work out. Well, it turns out you were right. I fell in love with 5th grade – the content, the kids, my team.
Then, last summer, I wrote an incredibly difficult post about leaving 5th grade for 1st grade – new district, new school, new grade. In many ways, I was running away from my last district, but still, I had fallen in love with 5th grade. I was genuinely terrified about teaching 1st grade.
As teachers, we hold tremendous power. Each day I am blessed with the sometimes-overwheleming charge to mold, to love, to teach 23 young minds. What they will believe about school, reading, learning will depend upon what happens throughout this year – especially in primary land.
Finishing my first 5 months in 1st grade, I can say that God is so good. God is faithful. He has a plan.
I’m now teaching in the most positive, loving school a teacher could wish for. Our administrators respect the teaching profession and my time. I would move mountains to make anything they said happen. There is little-to-no gossiping. There are hugs and warm mailbox greetings and thank-you notes and “You’ve worked hard” no-staff meeting days and smiles and “I want your opinion” and “Will you please show me how you did that?” and laughter. While it isn’t teaching utopia, it is the closest I will ever come to it.
It has been the most joyful experience. Six-year olds have an uncanny ability to light up a room. They love hugs, sharing, smiling, drawing, asking questions, following the leader.
Last week, I received a card from my sweet K – a young girl whose feet are never on the ground. She bounces ALL.DAY.LONG. Not kidding or exaggerating or hyperactive – she’s just very excited about life.
Friends, this is my new wonderful life. We learn to read, we practice sitting on the carpet – a lot, we experiment, we practice using our best handwriting, we imagine, we read Elephant and Piggie, we become best friends with Pigeon, we laugh, we talk things out. My new life is learning how to grow as readers/writers/mathematicians within the awesomeness of being six – not too serious, not too much, a lot of love, a lot of growth.
Before 1st grade there were 3 things I really did not like – touching, public displays of emotion (especially crying), and blue food. While my friends have not cured me of my blue-foodness, I now cry with the best of them. Get me talking about ‘my kids’ or looking at pictures on our class blog and I am a ball of tears. They are AMAZING, joyful, and most wonderful things in my life. And as for my aversion to being touched? Friends, 3 HUGS.A.DAY. She is not kidding – in the morning, as they leave, and at some point during the day. I’ve discovered that in first grade, my friends *need* high-fives and hugs and pats and someone just has to slyly rub the teacher’s leg during read-aloud. By 3:30 I’m so touched-out that I feel bad for my future husband. 😉
Still, my 23 friends know they are dearly loved. They know the boundaries. They are learning incredible amounts. Reading is their favorite and they can ask questions like no other. They will do math in any form of a game. My kids want to perform for me. They work hard.They believe learning is a game when prefaced with “I have something SO exciting for us today.” Life and learning is exciting – almost all of the time. There is an incredible joy in 1st grade.
Last year, my ‘word’ for the year was perseverance and my motto was “I can do this.” In July, when I first shared about moving to 1st, I shared that my ‘word’ for this year was ‘refresh’. In reality, my new word is ‘joy’ – incredible, exhilarating joy. I am so glad God works in my life according to His plans and not mine. For this year has been more than I could have ever imagined. God is good. God is faithful. He has a plan.
So friends, here is to being so excited it’s not possible for your feet to stay on the ground – in whatever grade you may find yourself.
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I love your writing. You have this extraordinary talent of sharing your joy in teaching and in your students- and it makes me smile just to read. Hope you have a VERY merry Christmas, and that the next year is just as blessed for you, Catherine!
Thank you so much, Jenny! 🙂 I truly appreciate your friendship. Merry Christmas to you as well!
Oh, this was such a sweet, thought-filled post! I've been sitting here watching my "videos "movie maker slide shows" from last year and your words put my memories just perfectly! Congratulations on working with such wonderful firsties and in a great school!
Em Hutchison says
This was an amazing post. I am so pleased that your year is going so well And that you love those little firsties. It is a magical year.
You did a fantastic job expressing how happy you are to be at a new school, new district, and new grade. Gutsy move for someone after just one year of teaching, and with teaching jobs in shortage. GOOD FO YOU, GIRL!! So glad you're happy now….you deserve and certainly appreciate it! You even made this upper elementary girl kinda sorta want to go back to teaching 1st grade again—-almost. : )
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Hahaha- thank you, Ali. I really did love 5th grade but am thoroughly enjoying my time in 1st. It's a fantastic change of pace. 🙂
I wholeheartedly enjoy reading your blog. The ideas that you shared during your fifth grade adventures helped me out many times – thank you! I am also anticipating the joy that you feel after falling in love with first grade; I am moving from 6th grade to 2nd grade in the 2015-16 school year after 7 years. I can barely contain my excitement! ! 🙂 I have been busy pinning and visiting your blog to get inspired by your amazing organization. I have learned so much from you! Thank you for inspiring me. Merry Christmas and may God continue to bless your year in first!
Wow! Mandy, you've made my day. Thank you so much got your sweet words. I hope you have an AMAZING spring!! 🙂
Kathie @Tried and True Teaching Tools says
I LOVE this! I'm always so amazed at your maturity and insight into teaching, despite the lack of years. How lucky your students are to have you!! Merry Christmas, Catherine!!
Rachel Vincent says
Your passion just spills through this blog post!! Your students and school is so lucky to have you! Many blessings to you in the new year!
Susan Kelleher says
What makes an excellent teacher? A reflective teacher! You touch many lives both young and old. Thank you for sharing your teaching life, passions, trials, and tribulations. Merry Christmas to you and my 2015 bring you even more blessings than 2014!
Easy Teaching Tools says
That was such a beautiful post. I'm so glad that you have found your niche in first grade. I've moved several schools, districts, grades, states, etc. and I finally feel like I've found my home this year. Thank you for your honesty!
A Rocky Top Teacher says
This post makes me smile, clap like a crazy, and want to do cartwheels!!!!! My heart is to full for you. It is easy to see, feel, and imagine the passion that you bring to your classroom, school, fellow educators, and the lives of your kiddos(past,present, and future). I am so honored to call you friend!
You go girl!
A Rocky Top Teacher