All over Facebook and Twitter there are posts paying tribute to teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. There are muffins and popcorn in the Teachers’ Lounge, and candy in our mailboxes. It is definitely a week for teachers to be celebrated!
I thought carefully about writing my Slice today and considered which of my former teachers I should write about. I’ve treasured the relationships I had with many of my teachers and have dear memories of my time in their classrooms. They have all mentored my growth as a learner, especially my reading life and writing life along the way (with the exception of my middle school math teacher–he tried valiantly to get me to love math, but it just didn’t compute!)
Then I realized that I have another group of teachers that I want to thank this week. For the past two years, my school district has been implementing a teacher leadership program. Part of that program gave classroom teachers the opportunity to become Model Classroom Teachers, which meant those selected studied their instructional practices very carefully and opened their room to visitors who wanted to lift their own levels of instruction as well. As an instructional coach, I then had the privilege of sitting in on classroom visits with teachers and collaborating afterwards. Each of these teachers put in an enormous amount of work, reflection, study, and extra time with their coach.
It was clear to me with every single visit that I was learning just as much (if not more) as anyone else in the room! These teacher leaders gave such good examples of strong instruction that I took as many notes for myself as I did for the teachers I brought along. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to spend time at every grade level, and it gave me a huge boost in my own professional life.
As a coach, I also had the absolute pleasure of collaborating with two model teachers in one of my buildings. Our relationship quickly grew past coach-teacher and became that of treasured friends. They not only welcomed me in, they absorbed me into their teaching lives. We have laughed together, cried together, rolled our eyes together, and tried to make sense out of the nonsense kids throw at us every day. I have truly cherished my time in their classroom and can’t even imagine not spending my days with them. And along the way, they have taught me immeasurable lessons about the heart of teaching.
As I prepare to have my own classroom again next year, I realized that so much of what I am excited to do with my new students has come from what I’ve learned from our model teachers. So I want to give them a huge “THANKS” in appreciation because each one of them has been an inspiration to me. I am very grateful for their open hearts and open doors–for their excitement about teaching and their love for always learning and trying new things with their students. I hope they know that they have not only made a huge difference in the lives of their students, but also to the teachers they have collaborated with along the way. My eyes have been opened to all kinds of wonderful possibilities for my own classroom, and it is in thanks to them. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to my favorite bunch of teachers–you rock!!