This past week I completed my 30th year of teaching. 30 years. 30 years of smiles, laughs, frustration, parent conferences, Open House, first days, last days, tears, sorrow and smiles. While the day passed seemingly unnoticed, for me it was a milestone. I honestly don’t know where the years have gone. It is like I blinked around the age of thirty and here I am now with 30 teaching years. It means..well, it means I am officially old. It means that I can now be one of those teachers who talks about what life USED to be like. I have been kind of thinking of that, what life was like then and now.
30 years ago, I taught sixth grade in an open school. No walls. I was only in that school for 2 years before heading across town to teach grades 2,3 and 2 again. I then went back to the original school (no longer an open school) teach grade 4. Another grade change and by some twist of fate, I am now in the original room from when I started at age 21. However, the room now has walls and a door.
30 years ago..
We had a row of 10 computers that I would take my math class into. There were no computers in the classroom, only the media center. I used overhead projectors, filmstrips and record players. There were no phones in the classroom. At my second school, the phone only connected to the office.
We used chalkboard, chalk and erasers had to clapped together to remove the dust. Parents were kept informed by possibly weekly or monthly newletters. Grades were letter grades and report cards were hand written.
We had Xerox machine, but it didn’t copy in color and I don’t remember needing it so much.However, the year before at college, I did use a ditto machine, with its blue ink!
I was evaluated and observed once a month. There was no standardized testing. We did not track students by data. Teachers evaluation was not based on student data. However, students were grouped for math and language arts according to ability.
As a class, we would write to a friend in Florida’s class. By hand, through the mail.
I would spend my Saturdays at the library digging for books and trying to find teaching ideas. My Sundays would be spent in my classroom making games. Professional development books were hard to come by and very EXPENSIVE. I subscribed to Teacher Magazine and our school library subscribed to Mailbox. I would comb these issues cover to cover and examine back issue to find great ideas.
I don’t have a chalkboard. I have a Smartboard that is like a huge computer screen. I can access anything on my computer and show the class on the Smartboard. I have two white boards that I use marker to write on. There is no chalk in my classroom. To show student things up close, instead of a project, I have a document camera. Anything I put under the document camera will be enlarged on my Smartboard.
Because of the computer, we can Skype with other classrooms from around the world. My students have had the opportunity to “visit” Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii to just name a few. We also “talk” to other states by Kidblog, Padlet and google documents.
I have access to a class set of laptop computers and my program is dependent upon them. Students take standardized test several times throughout the year. There is the MAPS test taken three times a year and SBAC once. Students need to have more than just basic understanding of computer skills for theses tests. The scores from these tests are part of my evaluation. They are also used to determine if a student needs extra help.
I have a desktop computer in my room on my desk, which is essential. I also have a smartphone and an IPad that I use on a daily basis. I couldn’t imagine life without any of these.
Report cards are standards based. Grades are 1 – 4. They are completed on the computer. I also keep parents up to date almost daily through an app called Remind. I send emails out with our events.
Professional development is easy to find. Twitter, Facebook and lately even instagram have tons of PD. Books are less expensive to buy. Podcasts are free. Where my younger self craved all of this learning, my old self has to tell me to stop.
Some things never change..
I started my library that very first year of teaching and it has grown over thousands of books. I could never imagine a classroom without books for the students.
My students still sit in groups and not row. They work in projects and can sit wherever they want.
My math manipulative collection that I stared 30 years ago, I still have and use in my math class because base 10 blocks, pattern blocks, tangrams etc. never go out of style.
I still work hard; like I did 30 years ago.
Reading aloud is still the most important part of my day.
My father told me 30 years ago, “Teaching and coaching are the greatest jobs in the world. It is all the other stuff that will kill you.”