A New Experience …comfort zones, 1st-graders, and bitter cold…

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Well, friends, I am officially back! After a hiatus to tackle the ominous “3rd Year Fall Semester” within the Luther College Education Department, I am once again in the classroom, blogging, and enjoying my time tackling a very new dynamic…1st-graders. But first, I must digress and humor my hubris briefly. Thanks to your devoted readership and my additional exposure in Decorah, IA at Luther College, the experiences and epiphanies found in this blog (in formal writing) have been published in the digital Oneota Reading Journal! I am blessed and flattered to have been published and would encourage you to check out not only my piece, but the journal in its entirety. A compilation of writing and review on children’s literature and education, the “ORJ” is a great resource for educators.

Link: Published!! (Oneota Reading Journal

As great as it has been to have been published, my innate humility struggles to draw attention to myself, and I must get back to the students…and trust me…nothing caused a more humbling experience than the first two days at Riverside Elementary in Rochester, MN.


For those of you who have followed along since the beginning, you are well aware that I am a “middle school specialist,” who is passionate about middle level education and the difference we can make when we insert great teachers in the lives of students at the most critical transition time of their young lives. BUT, in order to best serve my future students at all levels, and meet state requirements, I am seeking a full Elementary Education degree (K-8). Why do I elaborate on this? Because that degree is what has me way out of my comfort zone for the month of January. Enter: a class of first graders. Yes, that’s right…

When I tell folks I’m teaching middle school, they love to laugh and say, “You couldn’t pay me enough to sit in a room of middle school kids all day!”…to which I usually laugh and shrug. For someone wired like I (and many other middle level educators are) nothing quite feels the same as the relationship between student and teacher at the middle school level, but for someone who thought he could never feel the same about younger students, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself rather enjoying them my second day with these kids. Heck, I was that age not so long ago, right?

1st Gr.

My enthusiasm was, unfortunately, “stopped cold” (pun intended), when an arctic blast shutdown the entire state of MN for two days and I was stuck at home. This gave me some great time to think, though, about my first two days and how pushing beyond your comfort zone can help you grow as an educator.

Roch Weather

Yes, -52F was a bit chilly in the morning, and students at bus stops would have been a bad idea. But unlike adventures in to the freezing cold on Monday and Tuesday, I think it is imperative to embark on adventures like I am undertaking this month, especially when entering the world of education. To not only push myself to understand various levels of student learning, but to solidify my desire and passion for students in general, is such a remarkable and valuable growing experience. It is one thing to love teaching at “your” specific age group or grade level, but understanding, appreciating, and learning to teach and reach students at all levels allows for a perspective completely different. The desire, focus, motivation, and energy required is so very different and exhausting, but still just as gratifying (if not more-so). Albeit only two days, I have found myself so much more excited to teach middle level educators simply by striving to reach younger students in the same way. In essence, what I’m realizing, is that educational experiences, whatever they are, are an important and valuable asset to educators. There is growth for both teachers and students when this happens.

As I look ahead at the remainder of the month that awaits me, I am excited to continue to learn how to interact and reach these young students and to synthesize these thoughts through this blog. The value I see in blogging my way through my adventures in education was only solidified by an article one of my faculty advisors recently sent my way…a great, short read to start your week… Find the link below and consider starting a blog of your own! You won’t regret it…

The Value of Blogging

So, follow along, follow me on Twitter, and plug back in to “The New ‘Traditional Classroom,'” for another exciting month-long adventure in the classroom! It’s going to be a wild ride, and I’m glad you’re on it with me.


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