The past two weeks at New Hope Christian Academy have given me a lot of insight into my pedagogy and disposition towards teaching. Prior to my time at New Hope, I felt that teaching middle school required a different approach, one that did not necessarily transfer over to other grade levels. I was resistant to the idea that spending time in a kindergarten classroom could help me become a more effective middle school teacher. I was wrong. I have become more efficient in classroom management, adapted stronger questioning strategies, and placed a larger focus on implementing collaborative learning in my teaching. I have become a better teacher because of the time spent with kindergarten, first, and second graders at New Hope. I have enjoyed the time with the fifth graders here at New Hope, too. However, reflecting back on my experiences over the past two weeks, I feel I have learned much more from the younger students this time. I have had the opportunity to work with students who are fascinated by each new piece of information and driven to learn by their endless line of questions. I have seen the early stages of literacy development and feel much more aware of learning as a lifelong process. I have learned that between the endless questions, impulsivity, and undoubtable clumsiness, middle schoolers and kindergarteners really are not that different.
While most middle school teachers laugh off the common reactions, the truth is that we are hoping God blesses us, too, and you do have to be a certain kind of crazy to want to spend the days with middle schoolers. It is true, it takes a special kind of person to teach middle school. The more appropriate truth though is that it takes a special kind of person to teach. Kindergarten or eighth grade, our students require us to be our best. For most, it means giving countless hours in preparation and reflection. For many, it means managing chaos and answering hundreds of questions a day. For some, it means creating a classroom that is a safe-haven for their students whose stability outside of school is uncertain. For me, today, it means breaking out of my comfort zone to learn how I can be a better teacher for my students.
I am looking forward to the remaining time at New Hope and the coming months at the Martin Institute. I hope to be continually faced with new challenges, perspectives, and opportunities to grow.