Thursday, July 16, 2009

Getting Motivated

When I was 5, and three months into my stint in Kindergarten, I was so filled with my love for Mrs. Fee (my teacher), the smell of school, new crayons, and learning how to read, that I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. The next year, instead of changing my mind as many children do, my love for my teachers and school only intensified, and my desire to become a teacher someday grew. All through elementary school I studied my teachers closely, observed how they set up their classrooms, and watched how they treated me and my classmates.

I set up a school room in a corner of my parent's garage, complete with old textbooks I had begged my teachers for at the end of each school year. I subjected my siblings and friends to hours and hours of being my first students. I gleefully created lesson plans, and pretend grade books. I was obsessed.

When I entered college, there was no doubt as to my major. Everyone within a 10 mile radius knew I wanted to teach. When I finally became a student teacher, my instructors commented on how natural it seemed for me to be in front of a group of students, and how well I managed "tough" students. I knew it was because this was the mission and talent God had gifted me, but also because I had been practicing my whole life.

In January 2001, as I stood in front of my first group of 17 3rd graders in a classroom I could finally call my own, I was filled with a fire that was my love for teaching. Everything sparkled with awesomeness for me, from the little things like organizing learning activities to the big things like teaching someone to read.

Now, in 2009, I am preparing for my 10th class of students. It is my 7th year of teaching 1st grade. I am not sure why, but much of that fire has settled into a dull warm feeling. I am feeling pretty unmotivated. Maybe it is because I am in my 10 year slump, or maybe because I have been teaching the same grade level for too long. Maybe it is because my focus has changed to my own children, family, and husband. Or it might be that the demands of these things have made it harder for me to focus as much as I used to on teaching and my classroom. Maybe it is because in my effort to be supportive of my husband and his career (and lets face it, he is bringing home the big bucks, not me so I feel this is pretty important) and I am for the most part solely responsible for the kids during the week, I just don't have the time or the energy to focus on teaching. And a funny thing has happened as I got more disconnected from my desire to teach this past year and over the summer. I have a strange feeling of emptiness, and that I don't really recognize myself too much anymore. My spirit has been defined for so long by my teaching that to have it go missing makes me feel like I am missing a limb. And when I am very honest with myself, I know that a big reason God put me on this Earth is to work with kids. (Did you notice the teacher just started that sentence with the word "and"?!)

So I am on a mission to find my inspiration again. I called up my oldest friend Katy who ironically also teaches 1st grade and asked her to tell me about her favorite things she does in her classroom. (We have a phone date tomorrow to strategize!) I have been poring over 1st grade teachers websites looking for some new ideas I can use to revamp things with this year, to put some pizazz into my room. I ordered two new books from B & N to help me rethink my classroom layout and how I teach reading groups. This morning I woke up thinking about how to reorganize my classroom, and I felt a zing of excitement in my stomach. I can't wait to get started, and I think I may have found a way to light the fire again.

Watch out kids, Mrs. Kleffman is on her way BACK!

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