Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reflections with Ten Days Left

Ten school days to go!  My tenth year as an elementary school teacher is about to come to an end.  However, I feel like this is only the beginning.  The lessons I've learned this past school year are immeasurable.   The 23 children that regarded my classroom as their home for the past nine months comprised the most diverse group of children I've ever been charged to teach.  This year changed who I am as a teacher.

Postcards received from around the world reflect the
diversity of my students' friends and family members.
When I tell people I teach in Palo Alto, I often get the misinformed "you teach the privileged, rich, white kids" look.  However, this notion is certainly not my or my students' reality.  This year alone, my class was comprised of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and non-religious families.  I say families instead of students because the entire family is involved in the education of each child.  I also had children who were born in Russia, The Sudan, Taiwan, and The Philippines in addition to my children born all over the country and in Palo Alto.  The socio-economic situations of my families ranged from students who received free/reduced lunch to families who helped underwrite our annual school auction.  Reading levels in my third grade classroom ranged from mid-first grade to late fourth grade levels.  Yet, the most influential example of diversity came from one student in particular, Jeffrey.  Jeffrey sees the world differently than my other students.  He approached reading, writing, math, and social situations in ways that often left me speechless.  Jeffrey has Autism, and was fully included in my classroom this year.  Jeffrey not only changed the way I view education, but also he changed the way I view life.  I will forever be grateful to Jeffrey for all of the unexpected, wonderful lessons that he taught me.  In our society, Autism is completely misunderstood.  My new understanding of Autism and other learning differences has changed who I am and how I approach everyday.

I'll acquaint you with Jeffrey and his remarkable gifts in my next post.

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