It has taken me FIVE years to build a website that is different than most educational websites out there. Just to let you know, I almost got done in building this website four times, and then I suddenly stopped to change everything.
I had a vast domain for quite some time—from 2005 to 2013. I was told by someone on my team of educators at Space Camp in 2014, “YOU are the one who owned that website?! Wow! I feel like I know a celebrity!” I was even contacted by a 5th grade teacher in my district who shared the site with her principal—and they were both taken aback by all it had to offer. I earned a few honors nationally as well, where people contacted me about the “gifts” I offered in a way—the gifts of my creativity, my knowledge, my wisdom (I guess), etc.
It was an awesome eight years or so.
Yet who I was in 2005 or even early 2013 is not who I am now.
Since I took a sabbatical and became a fifth grade teacher in fall 2013, I have become a much stronger educator. And what I mean by “stronger” is… focusing even more on building my classroom community, teaching my students to affirm one another and strengthen their self-esteem. Over the course of those five years, I took several risks from starting a middle school Technology Club to sublimating dry ice comets in my classroom and solely becoming a fifth grade science teacher to 52 students. I went from someone who was a bit timid about switching schools and a little afraid of following my dream in teaching gifted students to becoming the sole advisor of the middle school Brain Bowl team, implementing escape rooms, learning about 3D printing, and pursuing my dream of going to Space Camp (as I already mentioned, but it deserves all the mentions in this world). I went from a teacher who was essentially afraid of middle schoolers to one who interacts with that age group on a consistent basis.
I have learned about what really matters. Since 2013, my first fourth graders from the 2004-2005 school year graduated from high school, and now some of the students in my first two classes are graduating or have graduated from college. To date, six of my classes have graduated from high school. And, since I work at a K-8 school, I was there to watch my students from my first and second fifth grade gifted classes graduate from eighth grade. It was incredibly emotional, and on the same token, wonderful.
Enjoy perusing this website. Learning is not just something you do in the confines of a classroom. The world is our students’ and kids’ classrooms, and we must encourage them to pursue the extraordinary!
(Disclaimer: This website is not specifically affiliated with my 5th grade classroom and not at all affiliated with my school or school district.)
(c) Ms. Jasztal, over the course of many years--2014-2019, and beyond.