by Elizabeth Prior, City Year New Hampshire AmeriCorps member, proudly serving as a Service Leader on the Bakersville Elementary School team
Often the first thing I hear as I walk into Ms. Porter’s third grade classroom is, “Miss Elizabeth!” as one of my students runs over to give me a hug. A few more students run over to ask if we are having lunch group this week, others asking about my weekend; what I did and who I saw. There is no group of students I would rather spend my days with than my 20 third graders. They are kind, compassionate, smart and caring individuals. I walk in the door each morning and know I am in a place of love and support, as well as a place of learning and growth. My students often encourage me to teach a lesson and go as far as offering feedback, knowing I want to be a teacher and, “need all the practice I can get.” My partner teacher, Ms. Porter, has created an environment of fun and mutual trust, a place that leads to student success both academically and socially. Serving in third grade is a place of joy, youth, education, love and happiness.
Third grade has offered me new challenges and places to learn. Gone are my days of resolving fourth grade drama and teaching long division. My days now consist of practicing addition facts and writing full sentences, talking to students about being kind to one another and what it means to work in a community, as a family. I honestly believe my students have taught me more this year than I have taught them. They constantly challenge me to do the right thing and follow through on my promises.
Recently, one of my students handed me his Pokémon trading cards before lunch and specifically asked that I bring them out to recess. I promised to do so and off he went to lunch, his recess and social plans all set. I got caught up in a meeting, and I never made it outside to that recess; looking over to my desk right before the end of recess and seeing those Pokémon cards sitting there, I knew I had let my student down. To me, they were just cards, but to him they were his social outlet, his way to connect to other students and have something to do at recess when no one would play with him. This is only one example of the lessons I have learned in third grade and a large part of why I want to be an elementary school teacher. Teaching is not just about the academics; it is about building the next generation, encouraging our students to be the best they can be and to be a constant source of love and support.
Serving in third grade is an honor. I absolutely adore my students and love watching them grow into the amazing young agents for change they all have the potential to become.
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