Utah Valley University's "For the Love of Reading Conference" provides an opportunity for teachers,...
This week’s feature is Michelle Hatch, a fifth grade teacher at Wasatch Elementary. Teaching has always been in Michelles heart and she feels like there is no better opportunity for growth than in a classroom with her students. Michelle hopes to be there for students who need a break in life. Here is what Michelle wrote about her reasons for teaching:
Why I Teach…
by Michelle Hatch
I’m completely honored and excited to have the opportunity to express “Why I Teach.” I can’t think of anything I would rather write about or anything that touches my heart more than children! Teaching is one of the greatest highlights in my life.
I teach because I want to be around the greatest of humans, children, on a daily basis, and because I want to continue learning academically and grow spiritually as a person. I teach because I want the best out of my life for every “today” and to touch the future for new tomorrows. (Essay continued below video.)
With all of my heart, I love children and I love learning with them and just being around them. Children are the most real, innocent, and sincere people on the earth. It has been my greatest privilege to spend my days learning, loving and laughing with them in the elementary classroom. What a glorious life I’ve lived being surrounded by the best of people-children, they are the very best of the best.
Children are so “present.” They live in the moment that they are in. We are happiest when we learn to re-learn to be “present.” We should learn from the past but not be in the past, we can think about and prepare for the future, but should not be in the future. Adults spend too much time in the past and in the future and therefore spend too much time feeling sad about the past or anxious about the future. Children are the most present of people and teach me every day how to be happy by being in the “present” moment. Do you want proof of this? Come in my classroom when we say the words “It’s recess time!” Not one child is dismal about a past or late assignment or worried about what’s going to be due next, they are simply and happily running out to be “present” at recess!
Children give freely of their love, time and energy to anyone who needs it. If you tell a group of adults that you need someone to volunteer for something, you can watch the adults in the room quickly look away and try to be as quiet and as invisible as possible because their lives are already busy and they don’t want to do one more thing. If you ask a group of children to volunteer to help out with something, before you even have a chance to say what it is, all of the children in your classroom will be raising their hands and waving them about wildly and begging to be called on to help. Children are actually very busy too! They work hard all day at school then go home to chores, lessons, homework, etc. but they will give you everything they have if you just ask. I love them. I want to be like them, I want to return to the very nature of children. When did we, as adults, change from this selfless way of living and this “quick to volunteer” attitude?
Every day in the elementary classroom is a grand adventure for me! I know that I will learn new things each day. I know that both my brain and my heart will be busy with all that each day brings. I love studying and learning all that we get to learn in fifth grade. I love learning how to be a better person just from observing the students in my classroom each day.
Each student is a like a unique gift that I get to unwrap and learn about. Each student teaches me something important about life. Each student is also my teacher!
One day my dad came in my room right before school ended for the day. He watched me from the back of my classroom as I tried to meet the needs of a more challenging student. My dad called me back to him and said, “That boy seems a little challenging. He probably hasn’t had many breaks in his life has he?” I whispered to him that this boy’s life had been really hard, his dad and mom were separated, dad had been in trouble with the law, mom was struggling to make ends meet and survive. “No” I told my dad, “He hasn’t had a lot of breaks in life.” My dad told me to look him in the eyes and then said to me, “You be that break for him Michelle.”
My dad taught me that every child that I would encounter in my career would be in my class for a reason. He taught me that the child who seemed to deserve my love and attention the least actually needed it the most! Both he and my mother (who was a teacher) taught me that there is always something positive that I can find and discover about any student and that I needed to find it and praise the child and his parents for it.
I don’t want to ever change a child from what he/she innately is, I just want them to be the best version of themselves-and in this way I hope to honor each child’s individual unique self. I spend considerable time discussing with my students how important each one of us is and that everyone has something unique to offer the world. I tell them to be careful with their friendships and with those that they sit by in class or interact with because we don’t know what great things lie in each person and who they really are and who they each will become-so we have to be careful with each person and honor them.
I tell my students at the beginning of the year that the one thing I will not tolerate is embarrassing others, or hurting them in any way. That is the only time I will be “upset” with someone because “I can’t stand to see one of our students/friends hurt.” They always seem to hear this and we work hard at helping everyone feel safe and included.
It is so important to me to find that unique something special about each of my students and to learn something from each one. Each child is a treasure and so unique, each has all of the hopes and possibilities of the world shining in their eyes. I hope I can enrich their understanding of the world and teach them everything I can. I hope to instill in each one the desire to do their best, be their best, and make the very most of their lives for themselves and for the world.
Each day after the Pledge of Allegiance my students recite a poem to imbed into their minds that every day is so important and a brand new chance to do better than yesterday and start fresh.