On September 1, I will embark on a new journey. I will begin teaching, for the first time, first grade.
My entire teaching career as a degreed, certified, Highly Qualified Teacher, I’ve taught 2nd grade. 15 years of second grade! I am a 2nd grade teacher. It is just who I am, who I’ve always been, and who I always thought I would be, as long as I was in a classroom. I’ve even taught the same grade in the same room – for 14 years!
How do I say goodbye to 14 years of my life?
Some colleagues have been educating young minds for as long as me, some longer, some not as long, but not all have done so in one grade in one room.
I am a 2nd grade teacher.
In three short weeks, I will leave those 14 years behind me. And as I do that, I will welcome itty-bitty first graders into my life, my heart, my head. I will nurture the hearts of first grade children and I will help to ease the anxieties of first grade parents. I will do this with the knowledge not of years past, as it’s been in 2nd grade for so long, drawing from every experience there, but using my own experience of having been a first grade parent once, too, not so long ago.
But, I’m not a first grade teacher. Not yet. I’m just teaching first grade.
Will I ever be a first grade teacher?
Or will this be just a visitation?
I would be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling a little nervous. I know 2nd grade. I know second graders. I know second grade parents. I know second grade everything.
First grade? Hello, Freshman Girl!
I can rely on the connections between first and second grade.
I can remember that I am an early childhood educator, that I chose this specific area of education, because I believe in a quality education for the young child that includes books and play and art and singing and hands-on everything, and that first grade is not hugely different from second grade in a lot of ways, and even if it was/is, I will always remember my work with 3s and 4s in college.
I can draw on my experiences with my own children, one who is just a toddler, the other who has already been there. I will not be afraid to ask my colleagues for advice.
I can remember that my beginning of the year 2nd graders are end of the year first graders.
I can remember that I know where to lead my first graders because I know where they’re going next.
But will I ever be a first grade teacher?
It doesn’t matter.
The reality is, I am a teacher. Teaching is in my heart, it’s in my head. The grade is irrelevant.
I am a teacher.