Here I am trying to focus on the most important lessons to teach our youth, and I have retyped this introduction at least 4 times because I am getting distracted watching Say Yes To the Dress! Am I the only one who gets sucked into this show?? The husband is always saying, “you’ve been married for years! Why do you need to look at dresses?” He just doesn’t get it.
Anyway…I suppose I should get down to business!
So Many Important Lessons to Teach…
As Teacher Moms, we are constantly taking advantage of “teachable moments”: When your student shows that spark of interest. When your toddler gets excited because she recognizes numbers on a sign. When your husband finally realizes that the foot in his lap needs massaging… Actually, that last one is still only working with a 60% accuracy rate.
But I digress.
The point is, we are constantly teaching lessons. As teachers, there is no shortage of important lessons that we need to teach to our students, let alone the required lessons! And as Teacher Moms, we are responsible for teaching our children (biological and otherwise) not just the 3 R’s: Reading, Riting, and ‘Rithmetic, but also the LIFE lessons that will help them succeed. While I value education and I love learning, the most important lessons I have taught have nothing to do with subject-verb agreement or fractions.
These are the most important lessons I want my kids to take with them as they grow and enter the world:
You Are Just as Smart as I Am
I say this to my students a lot. If you are an avid First Belle reader, you know I teach in an inclusion setting. My students often have to work very hard just to approach grade level standards. Every year I find myself saying the same thing to my class, “I am not any smarter than you.”
I am always met with quizzical looks but I explain: “Smart” is such a vague and relative term. Kids are so used to being told how smart they are or what they need to do to become smarter. I tell them that I am not smarter than they are, I have simply lived longer and had more time to learn. That is why I know more information, but “smart” is simply one’s capacity to learn, and all children have that. I have spent a lot of time studying, reading, and learning. If you spend the time, too, you will be just as “smart” as the teacher.
2. We Are All Family
In the words of Lilo and Stitch,
“Ohana Means Family. Family means no one is left behind, or forgotten.”
It may sound cheesy, but in our classroom, it’s how we roll. I say it constantly in some form or another. We are all family and we have to support each other! Where are you without family to lean on? When you spend 35 hours a week together in one room, you really do become like family. We all know what buttons to push, what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are, how to make each other laugh, and who prefers mechanical pencils to wooden.
My first year of teaching I adopted the phrase, (from an older, wiser teacher), “In this room, we HELP each other, we don’t HURT each other.” We say it almost daily and the kids truly take it to heart. I encourage them to look out for each other, stand up for each other, and root for each other throughout the year, and beyond. As a 5th grade teacher, when my munchkins graduate they leave and go to a new school for 6th grade. This community is always beneficial for them during the transition. When you find your community, your close personal friends, treat them like family. You may not always agree or get along, but an element of respect should remain. That foundation allows my students to become more confident and discover what makes them shine.
3. Fair and Equal Are Not the Same
At the beginning of the year I always display this graphic:
If we gave all 3 children the same size box, we would be EQUAL, but is that FAIR? The resulting discussion leads to the term “boxes” being used throughout the year as synonymous with any tool that we use to help us succeed. Many of my students have IEP’s, 504’s, and countless accommodations to assist them. This one lesson helps them understand why some kids have calculators, some have reading strips, and others wear headphones during tests. No questions asked. Some of us require more “boxes” than others for certain things, but we all agree that everyone deserves as many boxes as necessary to be successful.
4. Always Give 100%, Even if That Equals a 75
Listen up, kiddos: You will not always make A’s. It’s just life. Some students will never see “Honor Roll” on their report cards; and, I’m sure I shouldn’t say this, but I don’t care. If you are giving me everything you’ve got, I accept. And I KNOW when you are half-assing it. (NO, I don’t say that to the kids, but sometimes I’m thinking it). Likewise, I also know when you are truly putting forth your best, and that is what will take you to your maximum potential. If you grow up to be a brain surgeon, be the best one you can be. If you get your GED and become a welder, be the best one you can be. Whether you’re a waitress, teacher, stay-at-home mom, or the president of the United States, just be the best you can be. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to look back and wish you had done more. If you give it your all, you won’t regret anything.
5. Celebrate (Don’t Run From) the Weird in You!
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”~Dr. Suess~
That quote never gets old!
Honestly, it is really, really hard to believe this when you are 12. The older I get though, the more I love my own idiosyncrasies. Actually, the older I get, the more weirdness I uncover! 🙂 Seriously, though, those oddities make you stand out. They make you memorable. It’s those silly, weird quirks that make your true friends and family love you. I know they may get buried deep down in favor of convention as you find your way through your school years, but please don’t let them go too far. I wish I had embraced my weird earlier!
Dear children, if you learn no other lesson from me, please remember to be true to yourself-you deserve nothing less.
Hopefully I can impart these important lessons to not only my students, but my own child as well.
What are the most important “lessons” you learned growing up?
Psssst!~ I am so excited!! I have had the privilege of being featured in a new online magazine called Digital Miss! Check out my article coming out May 19th!