Now that I have finished six years of teaching, and have had some 550 or so students that I was lucky enough to teach, I find myself reflecting more and more about what I really want students to learn. Of course, I want them to become successful students and master my objectives. When I taught science, I always stressed to them that the words "If" and "Then" MUST be included in every hypothesis. Last year, I emphasized the importance of having a great hook in their writing. Despite how important these objectives are, what I really want my students to take away from their experience with me is confidence.
You see, as a student, especially in middle school, confidence was something I struggled with. I absolutely LOVED school, but I was sometimes afraid to show who I really was around my peers for fear of being judged. My students today would never guess that their plate tectonic rapping, cape-wearing, Mrs. Frizzle-resembling teacher was once afraid to be herself. I try to instill a love of "weird-ness" among my students, and let them feel safe to be themselves in my classroom. I always found it interesting to talk with the other teachers on my team at the middle school, because I found that many of my favorite, creative students were quiet or timid among their other teachers and classmates. I listened to parents tell me that their child had never "liked school" until my room. I realized it wasn't my lesson plans or my activities that were making a difference in the lives of my students, it was that they could truly be themselves in my classroom.
"You inspired me to be who I am and not worry about what other people think of me. You gave me the inspiration to impact others' lives."