Happy teachers inspire me everywhere. When they do, I want to share their wisdom! To all those who aspire and are inspired by happy teachers meet Rachel, my friend, colleague, and also a member of the Being Teacher community!
When I first met Rachel several years ago I thought she was in the wrong building. While setting up my classroom, I noticed this tall blond goddess walking down the hallway. She couldn’t be the new 4thgrade teacher, she had to be a model. I learned she’s not only beautiful, she’s a wonderful teacher as well—and she’s happy. But I’ll let her tell about herself in her own words….
I first knew I wanted to be a teacher during my 4th grade year. I had an AMAZING 4th grade teacher that made learning so much fun AND her love for us was obvious. I knew I wanted to be like her when I grew up!
I stuck with that plan and pursued an Elementary Education Degree from Tennessee Technological University. I finished college in 4 years and was lucky enough to land a job my first year out of college.
I love having the opportunity to make an impact on young lives, just like my 4th grade teacher. I love the “clean slate” feel of each day. If something didn’t go so well the day before, you can try again the next day! The main reason I became a teacher was to have an impact on kids. I know that one teacher can change the course of someone’s life. It’s a daunting task, but so rewarding!
I stay balanced in three ways:
1) TIME MANAGEMENT!
2) Taking care of MYSELF! Physically (vitamins, exercise, balanced diet) and Mentally (making time to do things that I enjoy doing!) and
3) Keeping my priorities and goals at the forefront of everything I do!
I work my tail off while I am at school! I am focused all day long on the tasks at hand, I prioritize and make lists of all the things that I need to accomplish that day.
It is a priority for me to be fully engaged with my family once I get home so I don’t even bring things home to work on because I know it would just be in the back of my mind all night. I’d rather work a little bit longer during the school day and not have to do any work on nights or weekends!
At the end of each day, I prioritize what is most important to me. If I’m tired, overworked, and stressed out, I won’t be my “best me” for anyone—students or family! I had a dear teacher friend that was battling breast cancer and she really helped me see what the most important things in life are. It’s not about having the perfect classroom, or planning perfect lessons. People and relationships with people are what is most important.
I share a lot of my life and likes with my students—running, coffee, donuts, family, etc… They get to know me—as a person– and we relate things we are learning to my personal life as well as theirs. I also try to make my classroom feel like home by adding decorations of things that I enjoy and other personal touches and make it a place that I enjoy coming each day.
I also love to have fun, so any time I can spice up a lesson by making it game like or add in “fun” things, I try to do it!
I love how every day is different. I love the opportunity to have an impact on young lives and hopefully instill in them a love of school and learning! I also really love the relationships that I form with parents and students that I carry with me through the years. It brings me so much joy to see past students as they grow up! I am always so proud of all the things they have accomplished since leaving my class! (Also, let’s be honest, Summer Break is perk of teaching as well ).
Take care of YOURSELF first and foremost! You will be a better teacher for your students if you are a happy person.Use your time at school wisely! Make a plan for how you are going to spend your “free” time. Figure out a routine that works for you!
Remember to ENJOY your kids each day! It’s so easy to get caught up in teaching all the standards, planning lessons with best teaching practices, and grading all the papers.
It always helps me if I take a few minutes now and then to just hang out with my kids, get to know them, and remind myself why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place.