Sunday, February 10, 2013

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

When I was little, adults would ask me the typical question that all adults ask children at some point or another....

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

After a little bit of thought, these were my usual responses.

I want to be an.....
Actress, Singer, Artist, Mother, Animal Doctor, Comedian, Cheerleader, Dancer, Photographer, Party Planner, and Teacher. My response would change depending upon the year of my life, and it usually changed frequently throughout the years. I knew that I loved animals, art, singing, laughing, entertaining, dancing, acting, creating things, and children. That's what I knew for sure. What I didn't know is that I didn't have to choose just one. All of those things come wrapped up into one profession.

Now I am grown up and am currently in my profession. I can finally, with surety, answer the question that I was asked a million times when I was little and say.....

I want to be a teacher. I am a teacher. I teach 1st grade.

I look at what a teacher is and does and realize more and more the many roles that a teacher has. A teacher is an actress, singer, artist, mother, doctor, comedian, cheerleader, dancer, photographer and a party planner all wrapped up into one.

A teacher is an actress. As a teacher, I feel like I am constantly on stage. I am kind of performing in a way to the kids all day long. I use different voices, tons of facial expressions, and lots of hand motions. I am "keeping them entertained" and making sure they are focused towards me and always listening so that they can learn. Sometimes, I even wear "costumes" on special days like "pajama day" or "backwards day." It takes a lot of energy and enthusiasm to keep this going day after day, kind of like the same feeling when you are in a show and you have rehearsal after rehearsal and performance after performance. Also, when I am totally stressed out, have a million things on my mind, all my 23 kids testing my patience, and want to scream and run out the door, I have to put my actress hat on and keep my calm. I can never show on my face that I am unhappy or feeling overwhelmed. I put on a smiling face and continue on with the phonics lesson on long vowels, knowing that all will work out. Thus, a teacher is an actress.

A teacher is a singer. Any of the kids in my class would tell you that we learn by song. I think it is one of the most effective ways to teach children- teaching them through songs. That is how I learn best, so I make sure that I teach my students this way as well. We sing songs about lining up, songs about sitting on the carpet, songs about sitting quietly, songs about cleaning up, songs about birthdays, songs about colors, songs about days of the week, songs about months of the year, songs to welcome them to school and wish them well at the end of the day, songs about the holidays, songs about the seasons, and songs about anything and everything that we are focusing on for the week. I love singing! And even though I didn't end up being a professional singer in this life, I sing everyday with my students. Thus, a teacher is a singer.

A teacher is an artist. What teacher do you know that doesn't constantly draw things on the board for their students? I constantly have a dry erase marker in my hand ready to draw at any given moment to make what I am explaining to the kids more clear. For example, to demonstrate compound words, I first draw a dog, and then a house and then after they guess the word, I draw a dog house. In math when we are learning about 4+2=6, I draw out a story for them to understand with 4 dogs having a picnic, 2 dogs joining them and then asking how many dogs are having a picnic in all? We are constantly doing art in 1st grade with projects for each holiday. I am putting my creative juices together along with the help of Pinterest to come up with art projects for my students to enjoy. I am always working with markers, colored pencils, paints and glitter as I am teaching. Thus, a teacher is an artist.

A teacher is a mother. Even though I haven't had any kids of my own yet, I feel like I have 23 kids whom I love and care for as if they were my very own. I have seen them grow and change from the beginning of the year and blossom into the smart beautiful 1st graders that they are now. They have learned so much! They each have their own little talents and quirks about them, each with different and fun personalities. They love me and I love them and we spend so much time together. Not only do I teach them their ABC's and 1, 2, 3's, I also teach them motherly things like how to make friends, how to be kind and responsible, and how to be a well rounded human being. I am constantly giving them hugs and telling them how proud I am of them. I feel that motherly love towards each one of them and I can honestly say that I could adopt any of them and be happy. They are my kids. Thus, a teacher is a mother.

A teacher is a doctor.  I wanted to be an animal doctor when I was little, not a human doctor. Now, I don't have any animals in my class but I do have 23 little monkeys that need constant doctorly care. :) I have a cupboard full of band aids. Not a day goes by that I don't use at least one. Something about a band aid brings comfort to a little 6 year old even though it really doesn't do much. My students will come up crying to me and show me their boo boo, and it will be so small that you can only see it with a magnifying glass. But a band aid fixes everything and puts a smile back on their face. Also, there is a little boy in my class that has diabetes. I have been trained to test his blood twice a day and make sure he is at the right blood sugar level. I have learned so much about diabetes and feel confident to caring for his illness. This is something I had no clue about at the beginning of the year. Thus, a teacher is a doctor.

A teacher is a comedian. One of the reasons why I love my job so much is because my kids think I am super funny. Even when I say really stupid jokes that most adults would role their eyes at and label corny, the kids find it hilarious. When a dry erase marker is going out and starts to squeak when I use it, I will say, "Oh how nice. The marker is singing to us! Isn't that sweet?" Or I make up stupid things that will help them learn that are funny...Like, for example, if a word doesn't follow the typical English rules, like the word "want." The a in want should say a, waaant, like a for apple, but it doesn't. It wants to be an o. I will talk about this and then say, "I think want needs to go to the Principal's office, he is not following the rules." Or, I might talk about a letter being in a word just because she thinks she looks cute. Like the i in friend. The i doesn't say anything but is just there to look cute. I often refer to "qu" as a couple in love because they are always together. I tell them that you won't see a q without u right by it's side. They think all of these things are hilarious but it really helps them to remember and learn. Thus, a teacher is a comedian.

A teacher is a cheerleader. I was a cheerleader for a year in high school and I loved it. I loved the energy and the dancing and all the fun stunts that we learned. I loved cheering our teams on during games. This is how teaching is. I am constantly cheering on my students and giving them the confidence that they need to move forward. There is one little boy in my class that is always saying the "c word." It is a bad word in my class. If you are wondering what this horrible word is, it is, "can't." They aren't allowed to say it. I tell them when they say it, they are lying to their brains. I tell them they can do hard things and encourage them to move forward. I am their cheerleader. I give them positive praise when they try out new things that are challenging or when I can see that they are really thinking. I am cheering them on at all times and filling them with confidence. Thus, a teacher is a cheerleader.

A teacher is a dancer. You think teachers don't dance? Well, you were wrong! I am always showing them funny songs and raps from you tube that connect with what we are learning about. All 23 kids and myself dance to the beat of the song as we sing along. Or to get our energy out at the carpet, all of us will stand up and dance around the room for 30 seconds before we return to our seats. I also have done some Zumba sessions with my students in the gym which they love for P.E. We get our groove on! Thus, a teacher is a dancer.

A teacher is a photographer. I have a class blog, that I update on a weekly basis for the parents to read my newsletter and see pictures from class. I am always pulling out my camera on the kids and capturing any moment that I can. They have gotten used to it now and pose for me with a huge grin on their face. I love sharing these pictures with the parents for them to get a sneak peek into their child's school day. Thus, a teacher is photographer.

A teacher is a party planner. Sometimes I feel like I am constantly planning parties for these kids. Even for centers which isn't an official party, I have to think of 5 different 15 minute activities for the kids to participate in each day that have to do with what we are learning about. I feel like I have a theme and then I am taking off from there brainstorming whatever I can to make it fun and creative. Similar to what moms do for parties, except instead of Barbie or Toy Story themes, I am doing themes like nouns or capital letters. Also, we have lots of class parties for holidays and other things. At the beginning of the year we had a "Johny Apple Seed" party and did tons of different apple activities along with an apple taste test. Last week we had our 100th day of school party and this coming week we have our Valentine's party. Two weeks ago we had an ice cream party, rewarding the kids for their great behavior during the last couple months. Parties, parties, parties. Thus, a teacher is a party planner.

I realize more and more each day that I was made to be a teacher. I get to have all of my favorite things and interests combined into one job. I get to be an actress, a singer, an artist, a mother, a doctor, a comedian, a cheerleader, a dancer, a photographer, and a party planner all at the same time! I am a pretty lucky lady!

Of course there are hard times and struggles along the way along with long hours and sleepless nights, but it is definitely worth it. Plus, I get to inspire and change people's lives along the way. I get to mold these children and plant the foundational skills into them that help them develop into amazing successful human beings. And that is really what being a teacher is all about.


  1. Very true! I love all the connections you made! I bet you will be one of those teachers that your kids remember all their lives! The best thing in life is to love what you do. Then it doesn't feel like hard work, even though it is.

  2. Love it Mikelle! I bet you are a wonderful teacher!