“‘This lady?'” I thought, “Am I really so unimportant that they don’t even remember my name?”
I’ve recently started serving through AmeriCorps at the Flambeau School. My project is in Ag STEM. Teaching 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders about different agricultural-related topics. I spend one hour each week with each class of students, all studying the same topic and then changing it up for next week. I was kind of thrown into it unsure what the purpose was, what I was here to accomplish, where the program was going to end up. All I was sure of was that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students.
I spent my first couple of weeks training and preparing for the rest of the school year. In those weeks, I started becoming very excited for the year ahead as I got introduced to resources and ideas. My creative energies started flowing and I dove into planning for the school year! I started planning lessons on plant life, animal systems, feed rations, building projects, and field trips to the tractor dealership! I was very, VERY excited!
As the days, hours and minutes drew closer to my first class with students, the nerves began to rise. When the students walked into my classroom, my heart was beating fast! “How do I make them like me?” “What if I don’t remember their names?” “What if I’m no good at teaching?” “I have ZERO experience in teaching!!” Those were some concerns running through my head. However, when I opened my mouth to speak, some strange words rolled off my lips, “Hello everyone, my name is Miss Hetke.” The words came out so naturally but sounded so weird. When did I become a teacher? This was never part of my plan! But it has been working out.
It was the second week of teaching when I first thought my students did not care very much about me. They didn’t remember my name or the things we had talked about the week before. I was just “This lady.” Now, 4 weeks later, my students greet me with smiles and excitement for the coming class period. My fears of being no good at teaching have been slowly washed away with every class going better than I would have expected. I am in love with this experience!
“Miss Hetke, I drew you something!” one of my students whispered to me after class. She handed me a folded-up piece of paper and walked away. I carefully unfolded the scratch paper that came out of the 6th grader’s binder and a grin covered my entire face. A simple pencil drawing of a highland cow. I had mentioned in passing the week before that I love highland cows and this student wanted to honor me by offering me her talent in drawing a picture of one for me.
“This matters.” I finally thought. “My students care. I know they are going to remember the things I teach them.”
Story and photo by Serenity Hetke, Rusk County Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Agriculturist chair. Originally appeared in the District 9 December 2023 Newsletter.