You is smart, You is kind, You is Important.
Let’s be honest, the movie The Help wrote half of this blog for me. Those are and forever will be my top three lessons/rules for my students, but what truly brought this blog idea on was my last three days in the real classroom. As I began to use my experiences in student teaching and hours upon hours in spent as a college-student in the classroom, I found this:
Kids just want to be kids.
It is crazy to think back to when I was in school, to where all I wanted to do was talk with my bff (that changed every week), laugh at anything that came remotely close to sounding like the word ‘poop’, and being my weird and crazy self. That is it.
I know, I know, school is school. We need to teach our kids how to act in society, how to sit quietly, how to stop tapping their dang pencil on their desk or hitting their feet together because seriously, everyone can hear you (still learning my patience on this one), how farts in public are not and never will be appropriate, and how respect and kindness are the two things that will get you anywhere in life.
But just because they need to learn those things doesn’t mean that making silly faces to your friends across the room can’t happen every once and awhile. It doesn’t mean that a an always quiet classroom is a learning classroom. And it doesn’t mean that reading, writing, speaking, math facts or problem solving have to be done sitting on your bottom with four legs on the ground.
So how can we put those two things together?
Silly faces and respect.
Socially acceptable actions and unreasonably loud voices.
Kindness and the occasional chair flip.
What can we do with our students that not only is effective and leads them to their ultimate success, but also allows them to just be themselves?
Let them fail.
Because when they succeed, they will feel it. They will know it. Failing stinks, yes, but our best learning comes from our mistakes. And when our kids finally cross the finish line, it is oh that much sweeter because they did, they succeeded.
Tell them how dang smart they are.
I think I get a little upset when kids tell me they can’t do it. I get so frustrated because everything within me knows that they can. Yes, some kids are born with a true disability that takes reading to a whole new hard and makes comprehension almost impossible. But catch the ‘almost.’ Catch the fact that we all can learn, we all can grow, and we all can do what we put our minds to- it just may not be how the world tells us it should be done. Tell them they can do it. Tell them they are smart. Tell them they are so incredibly important- to you, to this school, to this world.
Scream, jump and run with them.
Let them get a little too loud. Let them jump up and down from excitement that they finally got to level 15 on Pokemon Go. Rejoice with them, dance with them, run with them, scream with them. Let kids be kids, and let your inner kid break free every once and awhile too.
Breaks are for winners.
We all know it- we all need breaks. So give your kiddos one.
Take it outside.
Not everything needs to happen at the students’ desk. Or in the classroom. No I don’t have my own classroom and I have never had to handle 26 kids all on my own, but we all need to get up and move. We all need a different environment every once and awhile. So take them outside, let them sit under their desks to discuss their reading for the day, and it it fails- well there’s a whole other chance to teach them yet another lesson.
Laugh with them.
I. LOVE. LAUGHING. Seriously, laughing fixes everything. And kids love laughing. And being weird. And having fun. So laugh with them. Smile at them. Joke with them. Loosen up a bit.
Make ‘Party’ an every day vocabulary word.
I overly rejoice when one of my kids pronounces a word correctly or tells me the correct meaning of ‘citizen.’ I have had my kids almost get mad that I was so happy for them, or confused on why I care that much. But I do care. Because spelling is so hard for me, and reading has never been perfect for me either. So when they do it right, when they finally cross the finish line, rejoice with them- party like its the last day of school (can I get an amen teachers!?).
So there we have it. I know, I know, I have officially been a part-time teacher for three days, but I promise you- my inner kid is screaming to loosen up and be a kid again- to be an adult making adult choices and leading in adult ways, but an adult, a teacher, with a child-like heart.
And remember, we don’t remember what is on the walls, that perfect transition or the flawless lesson plan book. We remember the jokes, the lessons learned, the praises given.
We remember you.
See ya soon,