What I’m most grateful for as a teacher in 2020

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Picture of a woman with long hair.
Amanda Bell

10. Spring break and my summer “off.” That’s the obvious one, right? Teachers are “the lucky ones” with three months a year to relax and recharge! I mean, ya know, when I’m not attending extra professional development classes, teaching a course at my local university, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t to plan better for the following year, cleaning and moving the furniture around in my classroom, organizing the files on my computer and deleting the ones I don’t need anymore or participating in a professional book study …

9. Professional book studies. I am a self-proclaimed bookworm, aka nerd, so I will always love reading about ways to help kids learn and grow and talking about those ideas with other teachers! Book discussions give me those rare opportunities to feel like I’m having an adult conversation, too.

8. The gas station right down the street from school where the owner-operator knows my favorite hot chocolate flavors and sneaks candy to my kids when we stop by on the way in a couple mornings a week!

7. Bitmoji classrooms. Those cute little uber-customizable avatars have never been more popular or used in so many ways before virtual learning happened. Teachers have created groups on Facebook to share their classrooms for others to edit for free. It’s like a whole community now and I am HERE for it! My Bitmoji has been to space, the farm, an apple orchard and under the sea in the last month or so, thanks to Google Slides, Screencastify and YouTube!

6. YouTube. Yep, it gets its own number on my list. Why reinvent the wheel and record myself singing ALL the songs when I can share a link for my kiddos to watch someone with some actual musical talent do the same thing with a much more expensive green screen and fun background characters?! I have recorded over 100 videos of me singing, reading and being silly for my students, but I still know how much they love Jack Hartmann and I’m not trying to take his job any time soon!

5. Our district’s tech-team who will re-wire entire classrooms when we get new phones and then create all the visuals to show us how to use the new phones. They can install the programs I request and bail me out when I forget that one password for the 18th time. They set up a million Chromebooks for staff and students to be successful during virtual and hybrid learning. They keep us – and our computers – updated and functioning!

4. Our school counseling team. The ladies who let my kids cry in their offices after we lost two dogs within a few months of each other. The ladies who know when to turn those offices into teacher “Zen Zones” where we can take five minutes to just breathe. The ladies who introduced my class to “The Color Monster” and “Zones of Regulation.” The ladies who organize meal trains for families going through a tough time. The ladies who selflessly give and listen and love every single day.

3. My TEAM! The special education department administrators, co-teachers, paraeducators and therapists who I work with every day are people I can always count on, no matter what!

2. The teacher-mom moments. I get to be there when my own girls go to lunch on their first day of a new school year, and I don’t take that privilege lightly. I know most of their classmates are missing their families, too, so I give them all some mom-love. But not much beats passing my kindergartner in the hall when she can’t wait to tell me about her morning in class or seeing my 4th-grader volunteering to help others as I pass her classroom window on my way to the office.

1. Lightbulb moments. When it finally “clicks” and I can see that look of pride on one of my kiddos’ faces as they complete a task independently for the first time, or really understand just how they solved a problem and got the right answer. Every time one of my students – or my own daughters – grow and learn, my faith in education is renewed!

 

Amanda Bell has been teaching students with moderate and severe disabilities at Arnett Elementary School (Erlanger-Elsmere Independent) for 13 years. She also serves as a mentor for new teachers and teaches a few graduate courses as an adjunct professor for Northern Kentucky University’s College of Education. She received a Golden Apple for Teaching in KY in the spring 2020 and is currently serving as a GoTeachKY Ambassador.

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