Thankfully, my whiny thoughts ended there, when I fell asleep at the table. When I woke up, I was a bit embarrassed to remember that particular line of thinking. Not only because I have access to far more supplies than many teachers in many parts of the world, but because I know perfectly well that supplies do not a good teacher make.
I've had many incredible teachers who have changed my life in ways I may not even completely see yet. There was my first grade teacher, who spent fifteen minutes in the hall with me while I finished writing the story I was working on and who clued me in on the fact that people write books for a living. Then and there, I decided what I wanted to do with my life, all thanks to Mrs. Schultz. There was the economics professor who tried to persuade me to switch majors and gave me a shot of confidence even as I said no, and the sixth grade teacher who let me study a more advanced textbook on my own because I was bored and tired of being asked to follow along with the class doing work I already knew. The soccer coaches, who helped me grow from a wimpy, skinny freshman to someone slightly resembling an athlete and who sat beside me when I cried in anger after a particularly frustrating game and reminded me gently that it was, frankly, just a game. The history teacher, who caught me reading Alfred Hitchcock under the desk and, instead of getting me in trouble, commended me on my literary taste and told me I'd better get an A on the next test. The English professor, who had us read Utopia and challenged my flawed argument instead of just letting it slide. The journalism teacher, who encouraged me to write articles outside the box. The debate coaches, who taught me to argue logically and to give a standing ovation to whoever beats me.
That list could go on for ages, but more than anyone else, it is my mom who has become my role model. I worked in her classroom last fall, in a school is in a low-income area, where students come to class with far more baggage than I ever did. And yet, when they step into her room, she makes them welcome. They come to her with problems, and she listens. She designs individual curricula where they are needed, skips lunch to read a math test aloud to a student who struggles to read but knows the material, uses alligators to teach them to round numbers, spends I don't know how much money to build a classroom library for a group of kids who don't all have access to books at home. We commuted to work together for a few months, and it was amazing that after a forty-minute drive home, she would still be talking about one particular student.
None of that requires supplies.
Since I started teaching (and I use the term lightly, because my work load is minuscule compared to that of most teachers I know), I've come to understand just how much teachers put in to their work. It's not iPads or smart boards or even pens that make a student successful in school. It's the moments of connection, the displays of faith in a child's ability, the teacher who stays up late to finish a lesson plan because she knows that her students deserve her best. I've done that once. To all the teachers, in my life and in everyone else's, who have spent years and years doing that for us: thank you.
A few photos from camp:
A few photos from camp:
*None of these photos are of classes I taught, since I was spending my time teaching, not being the photographer. These activities were led by other awesome PCVs, but I thought they showed the spirit of this post.