When I reflect on what I love most about teaching, several things come to mind. The "Ah ha!" moments, appreciative hugs, smiles, cute drawings, all the expected joys that come with the territory. But my favorite aspect of teaching is actually less tangible than those examples. What I love most about teaching is the collective team my 5th graders and I become by the middle of the year.
I can't believe how different it is in August. You see, I hate the first few weeks of school. We don't know each other. We are essentially strangers on our trial behavior. It's kind of like a blind date that lasts a month or more. There are weeks of learning procedures and being challenged to see if I will really follow through consistently. We must all learn each other's personalities, cultural backgrounds, bad habits, and the really important things like favorite super heroes, sports teams, books, and holidays. All of it. It's not my favorite time of year, because I just don't know them yet. Not well enough. Not yet.
But by January, no matter how large my class is, no matter how diverse my students' needs are, no matter how much resistance I receive from my most emotionally challenged students... in spite of all of that, I am so attached to these kids - each one of them! Now I really know who they are, and I truly like each one. As much as I appreciate each unique individual, however, I am even more impressed with the collective group they have become. They are able to work as a team wherever I seat them, and they have each other's backs on the playground. I love the compassion they show for each other, and I can see the confidence they have developed working together. The new family we have become is more important to me than the test scores each student will achieve this spring.
Building a team each year is one of the things I love most about teaching!
But yes, I have to admit, I do love the Valentines... Who doesn't want to be told that "Yoda Best!"?