Delaware Writing Project

My Teaching Aha Moment

By JoEllen Clark

WARNING: Blog posts may contain cheesy eighties and pop culture references.

Of all the assignments in the DWP (Delaware Writing Project) this summer, this post to our collective blog has been the most difficult. We were to write about our teaching Aha moment. HOLY COW!!!!! I began wracking my brain. Aha moment. . . . Aha moment. Umm . . . I couldn’t  possibly be teaching and working with children for nearly twenty years and not have had an Aha moment!?!?! Copious amounts of sweat ensued.

Merriam Webster defines an Aha moment as a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension; not the part in Take on Me when Morten Harket hits that really high note toward the end of the song.

Could my moment have been when I realized that after studying English for six years in order to become a high school English teacher the tiny elementary humans were the ones I really want to teach?   Maybe. Or could it have been when one evening in the basement of the local boys high school after an eight hour work day when I was getting my Master’s in elementary education, a wise professor said the phrase, “Fair is not equal,” and a teaching philosophy started to form? Possibly.

If you had asked or told me thirty years ago that I would be a math teacher, I would have laughed myself silly. So maybe my aha moment was when I started to teach math to struggling learners and math started to finally make sense to me. Still, it could have been the first time one of my students called me Mom, and I understood two things. First, that I had created a safe and loving learning environment for my students, and secondly that everything I do and say will have a lasting impact on my students. The moment could also have been when I entered my entire class of struggling readers and writers in a poetry contest, and they were all selected to be published in an anthology of poetry that included poetry from students all over the country. I was so proud, I cried when I read the notification letter.

But my aha moment came when I was considering all of these moments of realization and inspiration, that I came to understand that my teaching career is and will continue to be an endless series of Aha moments- teaching me about teaching and about myself. These moments are like the Pokemon Go characters, popping up in the most unexpected places.

I look forward to every single one.

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