A Teacher by any Other Name

The day is finally here! Today is the day I am getting married on the beach in beautiful La Jolla, California!

This whole quarter has been a whirlwind with adjusting to life as a new mom, starting over in a new district and teaching a new grade, and beginning to work with National Board candidates. Oh, that is in addition to wedding planning. I spent some much needed time reflecting on when I told my students I was getting married and on this last quarter of teaching on the road trip to California.

I gave my students a mystery message before Fall Break, to encourage positive behavior and keep my classroom management “fresh”. Every time my students earned 10 points, they could guess a letter in the mystery message. By the end of Monday, the mystery message looked like this:

_ _ _ _ _ _ i _ _ i _ _ _ _ _ i _ _ _ _ _ _ i _ _

They kept guessing letters, and on Tuesday most of my class highly suspected it said: “Ms. Corrigan is getting married!” But they did not have enough letters to prove it. They tried getting me to crack and would whisper “congratulations” as I walked around during class. A couple of my girls would whisper “Can I come to your wedding?”. One of my students even came up to me with an elaborate explanation of how she knew what the mystery message said. I tried to remain neutral, but I may have smiled a couple of times.

By Wednesday, they all knew what the mystery message said. One of my students even stood up and announced to the class “We do not have to earn any more points because we know what the message says!” (Thanks for blowing up my management system this week, dude.) Luckily that was at the end of the day, so on Thursday morning once they earned 10 points I let them guess the message. They were so excited and immediately started asking me questions. Most of which being: “Where are you getting married?” and “Can I come?”.

One question really stood out, and it was “What is your new name going to be?” I always knew I would change my name, but I thought I would go the rest of the year being Ms. Corrigan and would change my name next year. This group of students is into the idea of calling me my married name, Mrs. Gawlowski, so it got me thinking about the kind of teacher Mrs. Gawlowski will be. What parts of Ms. Corrigan do I want to keep, and which parts should I let go?

I want Mrs. Gawlowski to be a teacher who deeply cares about her students, and get to know who they are as young men and ladies aside from who they are as learners.

I want Mrs. Gawlowski to be a teacher who has high student engagement and who utilizes instructional strategies that get students thinking critically.

I want Mrs. Gawlowski to be a teacher who is responsive to students’ needs and can support others without getting taken advantage of.

I want Mrs. Gawlowski to be an outspoken advocate for her students when needed, and to pull no punches when getting students what they need to be successful.

I want Mrs. Gawlowski to have strong relationships with her students, and to have a well-managed classroom as a result of these relationships.

As Ms. Corrigan, I worked hard at being the teacher my students needed me to be. I hope Mrs. Gawlowski can pick up where Ms. Corrigan left off, and I cannot wait to see where she takes this group of students.


photo credit: annapolis_rose rose via photopin (license)


Caitlin Gawlowski

I was born to be a teacher, although I did not realize that teaching was my calling until I began college. I have always loved to write and began college with the mindset of becoming a journalist. Before I began my freshman year of college, I changed my major to Elementary Education on a whim and have never looked back. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and won the Outstanding Student Teacher Award during my student teaching experience in the Cave Creek Unified School District.
I spent 7 years in the Washington Elementary School District teaching 2nd and 3rd grade. I became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2018, and I hold a certificate in Early and Middle Childhood Literacy: Reading/Language Arts. The 2019-2020 school year marks the beginning of my 8th year teaching, where I will be teaching 3rd grade English Language Learners, and supporting other National Board candidates on their journey toward National Board certification.
If I am lucky enough to have free time, you can find me planning my wedding, spending time with my infant son and fiancé, taking group fitness classes, or enjoying a good book.

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