Over the fourteen years that I have taught at Chelan Valley Independent School I have come to realize that there really isn’t a typical day. Of course there are days that are similar – Tuesdays, for instance, we have a writing block, so Tuesdays at 10:30 that is what we usually do. But what happens within that time differs drastically from week to week, and, quite frankly, our everyday schedule is often punctuated by learning moments that can’t be ignored, taking us down avenues of learning that turn a normal Tuesday into an extraordinary educational event. It is because of this that I find teaching at CVIS so enjoyable.
This intrinsic characteristic weaves its way, not only into the weekly rhythm of my classroom, but also into the natural spiraling of years. Each year is drastically different, perhaps because of our cycling of themes of study, but also because of the nature of integrated curricula and what tweaks my students’ and my interests.
Consequently, each year involves a lot of preparation, significantly more than if I were to teach the same curriculum year after year. However, as challenging and time consuming as that may be, it keeps me sharp and my students engaged, so it is well worth the effort.
Another aspect of teaching here that I feel is noteworthy and of which I feel privileged to be a part is the multi-age classroom. To be with a student over the course of more than one year – in our case three years – has many advantages. Even though our class sizes are small, thus enhancing student-teacher interaction, the extended time frame allows for a deeper appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of each student as well as affording the opportunity to hone strategies to optimize a child’s learning. Trust issues invariably vanish and students realize that I am genuinely there for them. It makes teaching that much more gratifying, knowing that my students understand how much they mean to me.
I don’t feel I would be as effective a teacher in another environment. The essence of CVIS allows me to be creative in curriculum design and establish meaningful and valuable relationships with my students. With those, I believe I am nourished as a teacher and, consequently, so are my students.