California Educator

April 2017

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M A N Y E D U C ATO R S A R E passionate about teaching and love all children. I was one of them, never having antici- pated early retirement at the age of 56. After all, I had only entered the profession at the age of 40. ere were so many memorable students along the way. e ones I remember most are those who overcame the greatest number of obstacles and still managed to learn. I wanted to pocket these brilliant children and take them home with me. Of course, teaching is not for the faint of heart. My class makeup over past years included children with difficult home lives and students with ADD, ADHD, Asperger's, moderate to severe dyslexia, visual processing problems, oppositional defiance, and severe allergies to just about everything from peanuts to the grass field outside. But a really great teacher feels compassion, empathy and under- st a n d i n g f o r a l l c h i l d re n . I a lw ay s operated under the assumption that all children, no matter how difficult or trying, were inherently good. I found that teachers are baby sitters, managers, judges, referees, nurses, psychologists, police officers and perform- ers. Why performers? Because the teaching you do had better be on par with someone performing on "American Idol" or doing standup at the Comedy Club to engage these young, active minds. And I loved it. The most joy came from the "aha!" moments when a lesson just clicked and students really got it. I felt joyful when my students modeled great citizen- ship and were respectful and thoughtful, even when they didn't have the highest test scores. I knew in my heart that they would be fine future citizens. Outside of school, there wasn't a committee I didn't sit on, an in-service I didn't present at, and a workshop or conference I didn't attend and pay for out of my own pocket. At school, I would be there until 6:30 some nights, compiling the most wonderful lesson plans, mentoring a new teacher, attending some kind of meeting, or redec- orating my room so it looked straight out of a Martha Stewart magazine. en one day, out of nowhere, life's harsh realities hit and left me with a neurological pain disorder. (Addition- ally, my husband, a 35-year educator, had been fighting Stage 4 cancer for the past nine years.) My days away from the classroom increased. I could no longer sit cross-legged on the carpet with my students, or dance throughout the classroom, or stand on a table to get their attention. I could no longer have students chase me around the grass field; no longer jump rope, kick a ball, or join them at volleyball. Yet my sense of humor remained intact, my classroom management skills never waned, and I could still give unconditional hugs and compliments to both struggling and successful students. Now that I 'm gone from the class- r o o m , I m i s s s t u d e n t s ' c r e a t i v e exploration, their high level of engage- ment and curiosity, their ability to laugh at my pathetic jokes, and their quizzical looks when they didn't quite understand where I was headed — although they knew it was going to be a fun ride. I learned so much from the teaching profession. As I look back, my advice to new teachers is to find your own fulfilling, self-gratifying experiences, inside and outside the classroom. Pace yourself, be flexible and cooperative, listen actively to others, and be considerate of those who came before you. Veteran educators are tireless in their efforts to provide quality education to students. ey are vast storehouses of information, and they are some of the best mentors you can possibly find. Linda Young taught grades 1-3, including multiage and combination classes, at Burbank Unified School District. She retired in 2015. A Great Ride My short, happy years in the classroom By Linda Young " I always operated under the assumption that all children, no matter how difficult or trying, were inherently good." 15 April 2017 perspectives your voice

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