You may have heard the phrase… “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten.” It was true… until my sabbatical. What is a sabbatical you may be asking? It is a time to reflect, a time to renew, a time to reenergize, and a time to start fresh…
Some spend time during sabbatical researching, writing books, focusing on different work, and/or relaxing on location. It provides an opportunity to try something new and to stretch professionally in ways that have been imagined during stressful days…or unimagined. My imagination originally directed me toward writing a book and relaxing. At least that was what I imagined when my sabbatical seemed far off. As my sabbatical began approaching my imagination had a new image in mind, which would require an intense amount of time, energy, and emotion. You see my sabbatical experience took on a life of its own in a PK-2 school teaching English learners full-time. Yes, that’s right – full-time. I became a teacher, a caretaker, an advocate, … full-time. There were days that I laughed so much my cheeks hurt. There were days that I cried so much my eyes hurt. I became 100% invested in my opportunity to change lives. I thank my colleagues for allowing me to step away from my position on campus to walk in the shoes of an EL teacher.
What did I learn from my experience? Well, some of you have been reading updates of my adventures throughout the past few months and want to know – so here goes:
Implementing best practices…you bet
Assessments and data mining…check
But there really is so much more…
*Life is bigger than any one person or job.
*Giving to others fills up the soul with joy and sparkles and feelings of nice.
*Learning English can be fun!
*Go on a letter hunt instead of a bear hunt!
*Be kind. Everyone has struggles. Don’t judge theirs…it’s not your job or mine.
*Work hard, play hard. Enjoy life and work.
*Be with family no matter what you are doing.
*Not to clean the house sometimes when it is important and to clean it when it is important and to know the difference. If that doesn’t make sense, it may someday.
*Rest does not necessarily happen on the couch or with a nap. Energize the soul to feel rested.
*Incremental rehearsal works.
*Take risks – appropriately of course.
*SIOP is for all teachers and learners.
*Don’t be late to the teachers’ lounge on sunshine treat days… you will never get it back.
This is a lesson learned long ago but needed to be revisited.
*Candy is still a tactful way to bribe learners to do their best – whether youth or adults.
*Keep learning, trying, and growing. Stay curious.
*Field trips are exciting at any age.
EL Family Night
Kindergarten Field Trip
EL Family Night
*Learn another language – and keep using it.
*Observations do not have to be scary when you are in it to grow and be better than you were before.
*Teaching is more than what the written curriculum is and what the lesson plans say… it is about caring and sometimes saving.
*Forget the small stuff – even though it may feel big sometimes. Learn to let go.
*If I have the necessities and the greatest gift, love, I have all things.
*Professional Development should be lifelong. Never stop learning.
*Snow days are nature’s way of giving us a break from the pressure. Still love them at my age!
*Sometimes kids need a hug. Sometimes kids need clothes. Sometimes kids need food.
*Do not be an island.
*Learn about someone else. Take a sincere interest to learn about him or her – culture, religion, language, …favorite color.
*Culturally responsive teaching makes a difference.
*Brain breaks and a little dancing can do us all some good. Just move it!
*Missing addends are important to know but learning manners trumps that. Please and thank you can make all the difference.
*Food on the table each day for each student is not always a true statement.
*Hugs and smiles can fix tons and keep the world going around.
*Be flexible…things may change and that is a constant. It doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect to be great as long as “I do my best” in the words of a certain kindergarten teacher at Park Side. 🙂
*Be humble and kind.
*Be passionate and positive, not stressed and negative. Change will happen either way.
*Just like the saying, “Students will never care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
I was truly humbled by my sabbatical experience. I taught children. They are smart. They are bright. They are kind. They want to learn and grow. They happen to be learning English as an additional language to their native tongue. They taught me just as much as I taught them – if not more.
Some of these children had food. Some of these children did not. Some of these children had a fresh change of clothing. Some of these children did not. Some of these children received hugs at home. Some of these children did not. Each day I gave what I could to these children – from the alphabet and numbers to a bag of food and clothes. I consider all of these children “my kids.” My own children at home have learned as much as I have during this sabbatical experience about giving to others and resigning from judgment of others. All of these children have a special place in my heart for the lessons they have taught me.
My goals were so grand in my sabbatical plan…
but I learned so much more than any plan I could create.
Some One must have had this plan for me…
Live – Laugh – Love – repeat… and to share this wise advice with others.
Helping children in need doesn’t have to happen across the globe.
It can happen right here, right now.
During my sabbatical experience, I was often smiling at all the possibilities there were to help others. I hope to take this – along with all the lessons learned – to campus with me as I return to teach and guide the next generation of teachers. No pressure but the world is counting on them.
A special thank you goes out to Ms. Prior for creating the video and teaching me a thing or two while I mentored her during student teaching. Good luck in your new position as an EL teacher. Take care of “our” kids.
Stay Calm & Live Life, Laugh Often, Love Much!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.