Words of Encouragement

My Journey as a Teacher

Since elementary school, I have always wanted to be a teacher. I remember thinking, "wait a minute, you mean I can stay in school forever" without the slightest hint of sarcasm while my friends rolled their eyes at me. After all, I was good at school, and since I was quickly realizing that my dream of becoming a professional reader of Harry Potter books was unrealistic, becoming a teacher seemed like the next best thing.

So on I went, taking classes in high school in early education where I met a wonderful little boy named Preston who had a magnificent lisp and an unseemly habit for biting other kids. Preston was going to be kicked out of my school's preschool program for his tendency to show his love with a quick bite until I cried over the situation, and we settled on a 2 week suspension instead. From that day, my love for the adorable biters of the world has not faltered, and if I listed the students who I got along with the best over the past 4 years, you could almost guarantee that the majority of them could not keep their chompers to themselves as young ones.

From high school I moved on to Loyola University where I got a quite different experience working within various schools in the city. I was placed in a magnet school, charter school, and an Evanston public school during my 4 years there, and it was during this last experience that I feel in love with students in the worst age group of a human's life: middle school. Luckily, I eventually graduated and found a job where I can permanently observe the most awkward time that a person exists in and wound up as a 7th and 8th grade science teacher.

So It Goes...

Now that I have a few years experience behind me and I finally feel like I kind of know what I'm doing in the classroom, I decided to shake things up and go back to school. Never failing to live up to the overachiever I have always been, I decided to join a new program where I will work towards masters in ESL and reading at a local university. I am finishing up my first two classes this week and it was an experience in one of them that prompted me to write this blog in the first place.

As a perpetually eager student, I was very excited to go back to school. However, during my first class I quickly realized I was a complete newbie and had no idea what I had gotten myself in to. The other students knew way more than me, and any time I supplied ideas, the teacher always replied with a "well yes, but..." Over the following weeks as I read the books and began to have more valid and knowledgeable opinions, the "buts" disappeared and my confidence increased again. However, it wasn't until one comment on a paper I had composed in a half slumber after not enough sleep and teaching 'ready for summer' 13 year old students all day that I remembered what an impact a teacher can have on a student.

"You write exceptionally well"

was what was written on the feedback section of this paper and what reminded me that it's the little comments, the two-second feedback, that can change how a student feels about themselves. And while I have always had a secret dream to someday retire somewhere sunny and write the next great modern novel, I never seriously thought about the idea of writing anything that would be published, whether it's a blog or an epic. So I would like to thank my professor and all teachers out there who give valuable feedback, and who take the time to point out to their students what they are good at, because you never know how much of an impact you will have.

Posted by Lauren Slanker on 08/30/2015 10:06 am


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About Me

Lauren Slanker

I am an 8th grade science teacher and team leader at Freedom Middle School in Berwyn, IL. I love reading, traveling, and being curious! I live in Chicago with my husband Tikhon and our pets - Louie and Miles. This blog is my place to learn and reflect on my teaching so that I can continue to grow into the best teacher that I can possibly be!


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