Is each year in the classroom an adventure or a rerun? Someone asked me how I could do the same thing for thirty-three years. I have had over 6,200 days in the classroom but each day was different and unique because the kids are unique. That’s why teachers do what we do, for the kids, not to follow a lesson plan or take a state-mandated test, WE ARE IN THE KID BUSINESS! Don’t get me wrong, teachers plan like crazy, we are the planning gurus, divas, etc… but we also can follow the magic of the moment and go where the children’s natural curiosities lead us. As Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”
This past week has been so sad for our school because we lost a student in an accident. This brings back memories of my second year of teaching because the same thing happened, a student on a bicycle was hit by senior in high school. This week’s tragedy was a wake up call to everyone. Are we focused on what’s really important? Each child that walks through my door is special. He or she is in my room for a reason. We can learn from each other. I appreciate what each student brings to my classroom. We must make the most of the time we have together. “I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” Etienne de Grellet
Easier said than done, when in the trenches it is so easy to lose focus.
Do we succumb to the pressures of testing and spend our days turning precious young minds into test taking robots? Legislators need to get a clue and realize that children are only young ONCE! Taking a test does NOT make them better problem solvers, citizens, writers, or readers. It makes them better at choosing between A, B, C, or D, but life throws so much more at kids than just four choices. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-assessment, I think we must constantly assess to keep kids engaged but I feel like our society has become consumed with formal testing. Let’s face it, using one day to measure a kid’s potential does not even sound reasonable. Would you like to be judged on one meal you’ve cooked or one poem you’ve written, or one anything? It is much more constructive to focus on growth and celebrate the effort and learning taking place in classrooms across the country.
I’m so thankful to spend my days with eight and nine year olds that are positive, kind, and caring. When one of them acts unkindly we read a book, like Each Kindness, discuss how powerful words are, then we put our new learning into practice. No, my class isn’t perfect, but I have seen so much growth this year that won’t be showing up on any assessment. A kid that once bullied now helps his classmates and feels good about himself and others. Champion arguers now work with their groups in cooperative ways and just as important is the fact that kids want them in their group. Stressed out students that were so worried about making mistakes now realize that mistakes are how we learn. They understand that we are all different and yet in some ways we are all the same. That is pretty deep for an eight-year old because some adults think one size fits all.
Let us celebrate our sameness and our uniqueness. Let us give the children room to grow, discover, and learn. Let us be grateful for each and every blessing that comes our way!