The school year is coming to an end…..and I'm sharing a few of the things my students have taught ME.
Pictures by Cindy Green Photo
Schools everywhere are closing for summer. The last books are packed away in cabinets. Work has been sent home. Grades are completed. End of the year parties have happened. Teachers are saying goodbye to the children they've spent over 1,000 hours with this year. Families are starting summer trips, sleeping in, and nights without homework.
As a teacher, this time of year is always a little bittersweet. To be clear, I love summer vacation. But, after spending such an immense amount of time with my students…..I do miss them over the summer. They always come back in the fall a little different than they left in June.
While I may teach my students grammar, reading comprehension, and writing……every year I realize that the students in the high-poverty, inner city school I teach in have taught me more than I've taught them.
7 Lessons I've Learned From My Students
Kids Don't Think About Money, Adults Do: I'm constantly amazed by the fact that my students don't care about money at all. Of course, they want to have a place to live and food. They notice if rent hasn't been paid. They notice if they are living in a house or an apartment. But I have never once heard them talk about wanting to have more money. Kids care about security and basic necessities. As adults? We care about financial success.
When Say You are Sorry, MEAN it: I can't tell you how many times students come to me and report that while they received an apology…..the other child didn't “mean it”. And the reality is, as adults we don't always “mean it” either. So my takeaway? Be genuine. It's ok to apologize for hurting someone's feelings…..and leave it at that.Read, Read, Read: My students love to read. They read before bed, they read for fun. I've been trying to make time to read every night before bed….I seriously think I sleep better!
Kids Remember EVERYTHING You Say: Those things you say when you think your children aren't listening? They are. They know if you are worried about about the health of a loved one or the size of your thighs. I'm trying to be more aware of what I say.
Being Kind Is Always Effective: I work in an administrative capacity at my school. So, I don't have my own class of 29 students. I work with small groups of students from a number of classes, and also help with behavior support. More times than I can count, I end up working with a student I have met in passing during a behavior crisis. Almost every time……I realize that saying hello to them in the hallway makes a difference. Really, we all need a little kindness. It encourages me to smile when walking down the street, and say good morning to our neighbors. You never know how those small gestures will make a difference in someone's day.
Everyone is different, and that's ok: I'm constantly shocked by how varied the needs are with each group of students I meet. Some students are highly verbal……they need to talk ALL THE TIME (that was me). Some students? Love to draw. Some learn better in groups. Some need total quiet. As adults? One of the best things we can do for ourselves? Recognize what works for US. Acknowledge it.
Life is a Journey, Not a Destination: At our school, we encourage students to have a “growth mentality.” This means we focus on growth and small gains versus a final grade or score. I can't begin to describe the difference this has made in student focus and engagement. For me? I'm a total end result person. I focus on finishing the race instead of celebrating each mile I complete. My biggest life goal? Small steps. Not giant leaps.
To teachers across the country (including the amazing ones that work with my own daughter each day)……thank you. Teaching is a job that takes great gumption, love, and compassion. I truly believe that we hold the future of the nation in our hands. It's exhausting and rewarding. It's fun and it's tough.
May you enjoy a well deserved summer vacation, with no papers to grade and a frozen beverage in hand.