Having worked in an elementary school for the past 10 plus years, I honestly can’t imagine doing much of anything else. I grew up in a school. I rode to “work” with my mother every day, her classroom was always just down the hall from me. Looking back over the course of my life those years seem like a blur now. I am certain that they laid the foundation for what I feel is my present and my future today. I idolized my mother and her co-workers who also served as friends. I have always wanted to be a teacher.
I’m blessed to spend my time on Fridays working with young learners in small groups. While working one on one with these children, I have been given the opportunity to learn more from them, than they ever will from me. Engaging them in various activities I have their full attention for brief periods of time, we cover various subjects ranging from literacy to math. I’ve grown to really look forward to this time weekly as I’ve started to invest in each of these students and build their trust.
Today I may have experienced one of the most teachable and profound moments I’ve ever encountered. There wasn’t a huge breakthrough. In fact, the student I was working with was discouraged. I decided to celebrate the small victories we had accomplished over the past few weeks by praising the student and then setting a goal to work toward. I asked the child if they could have something to work toward, anything what would it be? “A gold medal,” she said.
I stopped dead in my tracks. A gold medal? In a world full of electronics and trivial things, this child requested a gold medal?
This afternoon, I spent a significant amount of time searching for the perfect “gold medal” to present to her after she reaches the goals we’ve set. Mind you this medal might not be 14K, it will be fashioned to accommodate a deserving student when the time arrives.
What I’ve learned from children over the past decade is that often the encouragement you give them means more than the best grade or score they’ll ever receive. Confidence, integrity, and a sense of belonging is why education is such a powerful and endearing tool used to shape and mold little minds.
I’ll keep each of you posted on if I get to present that gold medal in the weeks to come. I have a feeling with any luck and some hard work I will.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I will remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Erinn Williams is originally from Williamsburg, and now resides in Owensboro, Ky. The daughter of a teacher and a preacher, she hopes to make a difference through her words. She serves as a teacher's assistant in Daviess County, and writes for two newspapers in Western Kentucky. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.