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Living for Those 'Aha' Moments

Teaching to Care

Why did you become a teacher? That's the question I get asked the most.

My first reaction is the defend myself and answer like, "Well why aren't you one?!" But then reality sinks in and I realize that they ask because they genuinely want to know. But you can't help that first reaction because as a teacher you know there are people out there that think your job is just to babysit their children... And let me tell you that's their first mistake because it is so much more than that.

I think I speak for most teachers when I say there is nothing like the joy on your kid's face when they get the thing you have been trying to help them understand for the last fifteen minutes and they just can't. You look into their eyes and you can see the doubt and sometimes the start of tears in their eyes because they are trying too hard and want to understand so badly... but they just aren't getting it.

So then you do the unthinkable; you remember what one of the other teachers had shared with you, something that had helped their kid figure this out, or something you read on the internet and you decided to try it, desperately hoping it helps them. 

And as you explain it to them for the hundredth time, but this time with that little added twist, you see it! That light ball comes on and it clicks. Their face lights up, and they can't help but tell every single person in the room that they got it.

But sometimes as a preschool teacher, you don't get to see that moment. You try and try and try, but it doesn't happen.

You tell yourself you aren't doing enough, or you didn't try this way, that you are failing them because they can't quite get their ABC's or they keep missing those three numbers between ten. There have been many days when after all the kiddos are gone that I have left my room crying because of the feeling that I failed them. But the hard truth is you didn't fail them; the only way to fail them is to not do more.

Not bring in new ways to help them learn, not help them learn new ways to play, not encourage them when they struggle, and not push them to do more when they are ready to do more.

I remember when one of my kiddos wanted desperately to write the word "love" on a card for mom. She was trying so hard to sound out the words and figure it out for herself. I watched as she continued to sound it out the way she knew how and she just couldn't figure it out. She started to break down in tears and told me she wasn't going make the card anymore for mom. (She had given up.)

After she had her moment and began to stop crying, I looked at her. "Can we sound it out together, but in a different way?" She nodded her head, and this time we sounded it out without the vowels and she got it! Her eyes lit up and she wrote the whole word down (and proudly gave it to mom when she got there to pick her up).

That moment was when I knew I finally had the answer to the question people had been asking me for so long; I became a teacher for those moments.

I'm not talking about the easy moments. I'm talking about the moments when your kid works so hard to get something that they want and they do it. With help or without help, they still did it.

Those moments when they want to give up (sometimes just like you on those really hard days) but they decide to try it again—those are the moments I live for.

So why did I become a teacher? you ask.

It's simple really; because I love kids and love those "aha" moment's.

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