What is your most significant accomplishment?
As my peers have written throughout the past year, being a Lasallian Volunteer is somewhat like learning to juggle, choreographing a new dance, or, as we all really know it, a long journey with many ups and downs. Depending on if it was an “up” or “down” day, I must admit that I have struggled with my role as a volunteer and what my defined purpose has been. As the end of this year is rapidly approaching, I have been especially focused on what I am going to take with me after all of the juggling and dancing on this journey, so when I was recently asked “What is your most significant accomplishment?”, I was, oddly enough, prepared to answer.
As an educator, I know that my performance is reflected in what my students accomplish. I recently looked back on the educational philosophy that I wrote, edited, and rewrote many times throughout my collegiate years and realized what is truly important – recognizing the differences in my students, both in the way they learn as well as what outside factors may play a role in their time in the classroom. After reflecting on this, I then asked myself whether or not I’ve done this throughout my time at San Miguel. How much have I adapted my teaching to my students’ needs? How do I know if and when I’ve done this? If I have done this, how can I possibly measure it?
What I have come to realize is that I have accomplished so much more than what a great teaching review or observation would give me. I have known from the beginning how much my time in the classroom with my students is a blessing in my life, but I have come to find concrete reasons why I know this is true.
The biggest achievements that come to mind are the moments when I hear, “Oooooooh!” as I’m finishing writing a practice problem on the board and a student begins to put together the different pieces of the lesson, or a “YES!” after a student finds out that she/he has solved an equation correctly. Actually, the most rewarding moments may be when one student is teaching another why a certain step in putting together a graph is important, or when a student repeats one of “Ms. Cash’s tips for success” while they’re studying by themselves. Personally, I think I’ve won for the day when I am able to see that most, if not all, of my students completed their homework correctly, and wrote notes to me about where they got lost at first, but now they understand. This may seem silly, but I see so much success in these moments!
What I’m trying to say is that as volunteers, and especially volunteers serving in schools, we must continue to not just pat ourselves on the back for a day’s work well done, but recognize how big our small moments really are. That “YES!” moment could have very easily have been a student’s first for the day, and I couldn’t feel more accomplished knowing that it happened in my classroom.
In hindsight, I’d say that I’ve had quite a few significant accomplishments today. The most significant? Each question that was resolved and every new piece of information successfully received; alone these are little victories, but together, they form steps toward succeeding in math (and even enjoying it) a bit more than they did yesterday.
Ellie Cash is a 1st year LV serving at San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona and is a 2015 graduate of Saint Louis University.