"Who would like to help the first graders learn to read?" was the question posed to my class while I was a fourth grader in Mrs. Cirillo's class. I was very shy but not a huge fan of recess so I raised my hand. Little did I know how rewarding it would be to watch a child a few years younger unlock the mystery of reading. It was so exciting.
My next tutoring opportunity came during my eighth grade year in Algebra. Our class had finished the book and Mr. Pappas offered up the challenge of helping another eighth grade student learn basic operations in math. If we chose to do this our math grade would be based on how well our student did on their final test. For a person who loved a good "A" this was horrifying but I rose to the challenge. I was paired up with Glenn, a curly haired, lively boy who could care less about his grades. It was stressful but we got through it. I remember vividly chasing him down after school screaming, "How did you do on your test?" Glenn replied nonchalantly, "Oh, I got an "A". I ran all the way home giggling and screeching with joy. I was hooked.
I love school. Therefore, I have been a student or a teacher since I have been five years old. Throughout my career I have taught all elementary grades K - 6 with the exception of 5th grade. One thing I pride myself on is reinventing myself. Change is good. I embrace it! During my career, I have changed schools, districts, rooms, methods, grade levels & hours. It is one of the few careers that doesn't stay the same and never will.
My basic philosophies of teaching have never changed:
*Make learning fun! If you aren't having fun neither will your students.
*Let students try it themselves! Let them cut, draw, glue, write, read, create and think for themselves. It may not turn out pretty. They will make mistakes but more importantly they will learn!
Twenty years ago I also began mentoring new teachers. You forget how much knowledge you have to share with others. It is exciting to be able to reach inside of my brain and remember techniques that I have learned over the years. With age comes wisdom, pass it on.
And so the journey continues . . .
I would like to dedicate this post to my wonderful, loving mama, Bevyrlee O'Mara, my first teacher. Happy Birthday! I miss you everyday! - Julie