After 17 years of teaching, I feel like I am just beginning to find the surface of hidden potential within my students. For years I have taught curriculum by making sure kids can understand math concepts, historical events, and more recently scientific theories. I have taught life skills by helping kids to learn how to solve problems, get along with others, and the importance of kindness. So why do I now feel like I have just arrived? This year I see sparks!
I have entered another dimension of teaching I never thought possible. Through Donorschoose.org I wrote a project to aquire a 3D printer. I thought it would take months to fund this project. However, within 6 days, the project was fully funded. I had the printer two weeks later. The excitement grew among my students as we stared at the unopened box. I was afraid to begin. The students asked me almost every hour about when we would open it. It sat for days as an ominous threat to my teaching career. What if I failed in front of my class? What if I wasn’t capable of getting the $2400 gift to my class up and running? What if it broke?
With some soul searching I decided to grab the bull by the horns and go for it. If I was to fail, I would use it as a “teachable moment” in learning from mistakes. Together my kids took the printer out of the box, set-it up, and rearranged my class to find the perfect spot. A day later we hit “print” and we stared in wonderment as the printer hummed quietly and a comb appeared before our eyes. We didn’t fail!! We succeeded! Could we repeat it again? We tried with another pre-designed item and a shark magically transformed from melted plastic.
That’s when it happened…there were sparks everywhere! I felt it in my heart. I saw it in their eyes. I heard it in their conversations. Suddenly the impossible dream, became a reality. They knew they were into greatness and so did I.