I was talking with some friends on Voxer today about what grade-level is right for you as a teacher. The conversation shifted when content was brought up. One teacher said that she gets tired of lower grade content because things like place value bore her. Another teacher asked how primary grade teachers can do it and stay “sane” (I use the word loosely) year after year talking about short vowels and the “tens place”.
The answer is simple, and perhaps the same for any educator. Yes, my content stays the same, and I am not tremendously passionate about place value, nor do I have a strong love of vowel sounds (well, perhaps “ar”). Despite that fact, I have loved teaching primary grade kids for my entire career. I always thought I wanted only older students, but the truth is, the age doesn’t matter. The content doesn’t really matter either. How we really find out if we are educators at heart is by having that passion for the spark of a child’s newfound mastery of the world around them.
When I help a child learn their short vowels, or to tell time, a door opens for them that has previously been closed. For them, the world has changed in no small way. When a child becomes an early reader, an emerging reader, and finally an independent reader, each phase opens up the world to them in ways that we forgot even existed. That spark, that flame that ignites in a kid when they realize the new found power they have over the world is all I need to see to justify talking about ending blends for as long as I do.
At some point that is really our job. Our goal as educators is to create in our kids an opportunity to know the world differently, more completely, than they did before we had them. Whether they are 6 or 16, the goal is the same: we are there to change the world for that one person. If that means I have to find a way to get a little fired up about elapsed time or nouns and verbs, then I will. They are worth it.