It has been a year since I started using Weebly to host my website. As I look back through the blogs from this year I find myself wondering where the time went. Last year (almost exactly) I wrote a post about Challenge Based Learning and I remember how excited I was to begin the year. Now that the school year has ended I sit here on the same couch (that's still covered in what looks to be the effects from a school library explosion) and cry. I cry not because it was a bad year, rather, it was just the opposite. I can confidently say that my 7th year of teaching was the best yet. It's hard to believe all of the things my class was able to accomplish this year. Our big project was, of course, The Face of the Playground. My students learned so much about being an agent of change. They learned that it doesn't matter what age you are, you are never too young to make a big difference. The collaboration skills I saw these students develop will travel with them for the rest of their lives. The other ongoing project we were involved in was our monthly travels to Harbor Chase Senior Center. Just thinking about the relationships forged between these small children and the elderly brings tears to my eyes again. (Darn it! - Must. Stop. Crying.) Before our first trip I had several students who were afraid to visit people who (in their eyes) were so much different from themselves. That first visit didn't do a whole lot to calm their nerves until we visited the room of one of the residents who just happened to have a guinea pig. The rest, as they say, is history. As the time went on, the students gradually got less excited about seeing the guinea pig and more excited about visiting and reading to their senior buddies. I wasn't the only one who was crying on that final day; students and seniors alike were shedding tears over the time spent with one another. We were all going to miss each other. Some of the skills my students learned throughout the year are not easily measurable on standardized tests, but they certainly are easy to see. You can see it every day in the way they treat one another and themselves.
At this time of year I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking "If only I could have done ____." Not today. Today I am focusing on the things we did accomplish. Are there things I want to do better next year? Absolutely. Have I already put plans into place to help me grow professionally to become a better teacher in years to come? Of course. Today, though, is not about that. Today (well, as I reflect on the year and write this post) is about remembering and cherishing the moments this year brought. I appreciate everyone who supported us along the way. As any great teacher knows, you can't do it all alone. Mr. Roorda and Mr. Camp allowed me to follow my (often) grandiose ideas and gave me strength to try new things. The parents of my students gave constant support throughout each of the projects we worked on, and thankfully, didn't threaten to kill me when their child's shoes came home utterly destroyed. My husband -and dogs- were forgiving of the long hours put in at school. Most importantly, my students. Thank you for your enthusiasm to try new things, for your unwavering trust in my ideas, and your willingness to get your hands dirty. You are, of course the reason I teach. You are truly REMARKABLE.
My name is Carrie Gaffney. Someone once asked me a question that remains in the back of my mind and helps to shape my life: "How will you be remarkable?" I am continuously trying to discover new ways to answer that question.