As the cultivator of these children, it is my purpose to enrich the soil, protect their growth during challenging times, and to provide space and sunlight which will allow them to fulfill their potential. It is a much more complex process than just teaching curriculum. Educating our students encompasses more than just presenting knowledge. As teachers, we know that we are often surrogate parents to many of our students. We are also confidantes, friends, mentors, guides, coaches and role models. Our classrooms are biomes where the species and the environment work together to create a symbiotic relationship for children who are learning and discovering.
At the end of the school day, I return to my desk to sift through the piles of love notes and drawings to locate my planbook. These writings are a constant reminder of why I do what I do. I save as many of these items as I can. Looking back through the drawings I see the progress the children have made over the year. The early notes and pictures from September and October usually say "I lik my tchr" and show me as a stick figure with huge eyes and no hair. April's drawings are more involved, with multiple detailed pictures of people, speech bubbles and words like "You are the best teacher ever. I love you." The handwriting is clearer, the spelling is better and there is even punctuation. I now have hair and am fully clothed in the pictures. They are heart-wrenchingly sweet in their innocence. I have watched these children bloom before my very eyes, each in their own way and in their own time. It is just as it is supposed to be. As I prepare them to go on to the next grade level, my wish for them is that their future teachers continue to nurture the soil and appreciate each of them for their beauty so that they may bloom and be exactly who they are meant to be.