Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Teaching

Every once in awhile in the midst of doing school, a pang of melancholy rises up in me.  One day there will be no children here to teach.  For some reason, this pang occurs most often when I'm dolling out stickers.

I loved stickers.  When I was a girl, I collected them in a sticker book like so many others.  They were so pretty- such vibrant colors, some fuzzy, some glittery, others puffy and some, if you were lucky, oily.  The people-pleaser in me saw them as a reward, a job well done, and to have a whole book of them...well, that just made me giddy.


I cried almost every day of kindergarten because I wanted to stay home with my mother and younger siblings (I was the oldest) but once I got over the fact that this was how things were going to go, I began to love school. I loved books, worksheets, freshly sharpened pencils, the smell of crayons, notebook paper, and, of course, the stickers.  I was blessed with truly wonderful public school teachers even if their names were a bit challenging to pronounce- Mrs. Hiltibital for kindergarten, Mrs. Strykowski for first, Mrs. Barrett (no too difficult) for third, and Mrs. Donarovich for fourth.  Mrs. Donarovich was my favorite.  She was tall and slender with short gray-white hair.  She was a sharp dresser, too.  And she would allow me to stay back from recess, especially toward the end of the school year, to help her clean out the classroom cabinets. She would let me take home piles of unused worksheets that I would then use to conduct my own classroom at home with siblings and cousins as students.  Fifth grade brought Mr. Book who on special afternoons would teach us the Twist, the Bunny-hop and the Stroll, all to the appropriate music. School was grand.


As I grew older, the combination of enjoying school and loving children (I babysat a lot and worked at a day care) led me to dream of becoming a teacher one day.  I was organized, creative and enjoyed learning myself.  Except for a brief stint when I seriously considered art school, I felt destined to teach.


I entered college with that goal in mind.  The liberal arts school I attended was smart enough to get education majors out into real classrooms our very first year via a class entitled Exploring Teaching.  The first classroom I assisted in opened my eyes to something I wasn't expecting.  The teacher touched on the children's home lives and how much those lives at home effect how well they do in school. She told me that she regularly brought in an extra lunch for one child who often didn't have one, how she had to call child protective services on another, etc.  My heart wrenched for these kids (and for this teacher- for all teachers, actually) and decided very soon after that I really wanted to work with families- the behind the scenes problems that can keep kids from succeeding.  I switched my major to social work that semester.


At the time, I had no idea that one day I would, indeed, be teaching full time- at home.  I remember a conversation Jamey and I had while dating- we agreed that homeschooling was neat but neither of us were hoemschooled and didn't really know anyone who was.  When Sam was a toddler, I picked the brain of a homeschool mom whose family went to our church.  That mother took me under her homeschooling wing and along to our state's homeschooling convention- homeschooling just seemed like the most natural thing to do (and I still believe that).  When Sam was only two, we decided we would homeschool and we haven't regretted it since.


I love teaching my children.  We all do it- whether we're homeschoolers or not.  We teach them to count, we teach them their ABC's, how to tie their shoes, good table manners, how to pick up their toys, how to spell their names, set the table, how to swing a bat, to shoot hoops, to pull weeds, rake leaves, mow the yard...and on and on and on.


Getting to teach them to read and write, think through tough math problems and count money, learn geography and history, how to spell difficult words- this is all a bonus.  Including God and our faith in all this is a bonus on top of a bonus.  Watching their eyes beam when they finally grasp something, when they take a book up to their room to read on their own for the first time, when they make change correctly in Monopoly, when they write a note to a friend with passable spelling...bonus, bonus, bonus.  Parents who send their kids to school experience many of these things, too.  And what a joy they are.


Teaching at home is not all wine and roses (or water and sunflowers, in our case).  Like any teaching job, it can be is exasperating, thankless, and incredibly {emotionally} tiring.  But oh- one day, when my last graduates, I will both celebrate and lament all at the same time.  I have a feeling I may just have to find someone else's child to give stickers to at that point.

In the meantime, I intend to enjoy as many moments of teaching my children as I can.  These days won't last forever.  They're not meant to.  But, what a gift it is to be able to sit beside and across from my favorite students these last seven years...with twelve more to go.

Despite what my college diploma says, a teacher I will always be.  While it wasn't the intent, I followed my dream after all. Pin It

13 comments:

  1. What a delightful memoir of your childhood memories and a beautiful tribute to your past, present, and future! I too loved stickers, puffy ones were my favorite for sure. I still get to play with stickers now, but they are called "labels" and I love printing them out for any and all kinds of reasons! :-)

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  2. A lovely post. I too homeschooled our children. We took them all the way through high school and we loved it. They are now grown and are supplying us with some lovely grandchildren to love on.

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  3. Beautiful post! When your last one graduates, then (or in the relatively near future) you will get to start giving stickers to your GRANDchildren! My granddaughter is 6 and LOVES stickers.

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  4. Scratch and Sniff and Puffy stickers were my favorites. Mini erasers were pretty cool too. And rainbows. I looooooved rainbows. :)

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  5. I needed to be reminded today how wonderful this homeschool journey is and how these moments need to be cherished. I relate with all you mentioned…. stickers, people-pleaser, wanting to be a teacher, choosing a different degree, no intention of homeschooling, being mentored by and admiring another homeschool family, deciding to homeschool, joy filled yet exhausting days, and finally…. NO REGRETS! I love reading your blog. Thanks for your encouraging words!

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  6. Oh I just loved this! And was reminded of my Mom's 1st teaching experience - children who didn't get enough to eat ... Thank goodness for teachers and the many forms and seasons they come in! xo

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  7. Just beautiful thoughts. Your children are so lucky to have a mom that will truly accept the job that God has provided for you and cherish it! What a blessing!

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  8. This is lovely. I love seeing bookshelves that look like they could be mine. Makes me feel like we're kindred spirits.
    This also encouraged me to start sticking some stickers on my kid's schoolwork.

    Hi, I'm Brianna, btw! :-)

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  9. What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing!

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  10. Love your bookshelf! :) School supplies are so fun! I love teaching my children at home! It has been the best decision we have made for our family!

    Judi
    http://www.browneggsandjam.blogspot.com/

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  11. Such a beautiful post...your comments on it all being exasperating and thankless brought this quote to mind: "We serve our children simply because God says to. Just as we do for our husband, we give to our children expecting nothing in return. (Luke 6:35), We don't give motherly love in order to receive praise, thanks, recognition or good behavior. (Those things may never come!) We give our love in a myriad of practical forms simply because God expects that of mothers." -Elizabeth George

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  12. Hey, did you know you can still buy sticker books like we used to have as kids? I found some on Amazon. I bought them for the sole purpose of the bank drive thru handing out stickers. My kids love organizing them by themes. It's so fun to watch them get so excited about simple stickers :)

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  13. I was a bit of a sticker junkie too, so this really takes me back!

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