The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Thirty-Two Things I Love About My Job

Today is my birthday. My thirty-second birthday, to be specific. And I have to admit: it was a rough day with my class. A lot of things that I expected to go smoothly didn’t. At a lot of things that I expected to be received with excitement went over pretty flat. And it seemed like we just didn’t have enough time to get the things done that we should have.

But I don’t want to focus on the things that didn’t go well. So instead, I am going to try to make a crazy list of thirty-two things I love about my job. These are going to be in no particular order, but will simply be in whatever order they pop into my head. And I haven’t written these out in advance, so I am making this list up as I go. So, let’s get started!

  1. My current coworkers. They are passionate, dedicated professionals who truly want to see all students excel.
  2. My past coworkers. People have moved or retired but they are still folks who taught me and mentored me and helped me as a young new teacher.
  3. Being able to help train new coworkers. Because of various things that have happened, I’ve had the opportunity to teach with four different amazing women in four years. Three of them were new to teaching fourth grade at Wiley and so I have been able to help them get adjusted to a new school and, in the process, have learned a lot about my own job.
  4. My students. Even on the days they drive me crazy, they are constantly pushing me to improve my teaching.
  5. My former students. There is something awesome about seeing students who used to be in my room stop me in the halls, on the street, in stores, or at public events, just to say hi and tell me what they are up to.
  6. My future students. I walk through the halls of our building a lot and I see the younger students and love how they stop to talk to me and share what they are doing.
  7. Technology. As the instructional technology specialist for my building, I get to find new ways to implement technology in my classroom in ways that I never believed possible.
  8. Silliness. As seriously as I take my professional obligations, I love that I can have fun and be silly, too. Whether it is wearing a birthday tiara today, shaving my head because students read over 1,000,000 minutes, or answering silly questions with silly answers, I enjoy being able to laugh and have fun.
  9. Books. This should be a no-brainer, but being an avowed bibliophile and life-long member of the Nerdy Book Club, I love being able to share my love of books with students and have them share there love of books with me.
  10. Authors. I have had the opportunity to get to know some amazing authors over the years. There are some that I have chatted with only via Twitter, one I’ve chatted with via Skype, and others that I have met in person.
  11. Conferences. I get to go to some pretty awesome education conferences on all sorts of topics and I get to meet colleagues from all over the state and sometimes all over the country.
  12. Student teachers. I have had the opportunity to host several pre-service teachers in my classroom over the past couple of years. They have each brought their own unique ideas and beliefs about education and have helped me think deeply about what I do and why.
  13. Inquiry groups. I am part of a group of teachers across the district who meet once a month with Teacher Collaborators from the university to talk about best practices in literacy and math instruction. It is fantastic to learn and grow with these folks.
  14. Student artwork. have a collection of pictures and notes that students have given me that are taped on my desk and windows.
  15. Field trips. Springfield, the Krannert Art Museum, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, sporting events. I love taking my students to places and events that they might not otherwise encounter.
  16. Student growth. There are few things in this world greater than seeing a student grow and accomplish something that he or she couldn’t do before.
  17. Blogs. There are so many educators that write about their experiences and share their online. I love reading their blogs!
  18. Blogging. I love being able to share my experiences with others, even if I don’t have as many followers as more famous bloggers.
  19. Secretaries and office managers. The women who work in the offices of schools across the country are so great! The ones in my building are particularly wonderful and patient, whether it is helping me find a copy of a form or giving me a spare key to my room when I accidentally leave my keys at home.
  20. Parents. I have been really fortunate to have supportive parents in my classrooms. It is nice to be able to call home or send an email and have a parent promise to help resolve an issue.
  21. Compassion. Every now and then a student does something that just blows me away. I am thrilled when I see a student reach out and do something kind for another student.
  22. Cupcakes. Birthdays in classrooms are weird events. No matter what else is going on in the room or between students, once someone brings in a thing of cupcakes, everyone forgets their problems and enjoys spending a few minutes celebrating a birthday with a classmate.
  23. Family Nights. Our school sponsors several different family nights throughout the year. I love seeing parents come in with their children and see some of the things we are doing in our building.
  24. Bulletin boards. I don’t think I ever really thought that much about bulletin boards when I was in school, but as a teacher, bulletin boards are the super cool. I get to showcase student work, share important ideas, and brighten up the hallways.
  25. Morning drop-off. I have morning supervision at the car drop-off. I get to greet all of the students as they arrive at school. I love seeing the bright smiles and hearing the cheery hellos.
  26. Student writing. My students have great ideas. At the start of the year, their writing is really choppy. But as the year progresses, it gets better and better. I love seeing the growth!
  27. Ties. I wear a tie to work every day. I love ties. I am becoming a necktie aficionado, with about four dozen ties that I tie with about a dozen or so different knots.
  28. Cardigans. I love my cardigans. I have three. I would like to get more. They go with just about everything. Seriously.
  29. Questions. Students ask the strangest questions, often seemingly out of the blue. I love the questions. They allow me to take advantage of teachable moments and sometimes help me learn new things!
  30. Going above and beyond. I love when my students take a project or assignment and go way above and beyond what is expected.
  31. Being able to keep work. When a student creates something awesome and lets me keep it. I love these treasures that I get to share with future students! My best friend and I gifted a book we wrote to our fourth grade teachers. I asked her about it years later and learned that she kept that book until she retired. I hope to do the same.
  32. New days. As I said at the very beginning, today was birthday. And it was a rough day. I love that each day is a new day, with a fresh start. I can go back to school tomorrow, ready to start a new day with my students, letting go of past troubles and moving forward.
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