We Are All Teachers
Big Brother and Little Brother Learn Together About Sharing and Loving
Point of View is a Consideration
From those who are in a position to influence our children the most, the message they send can be reckless or irresponsible. This being said by an adult of course so my views are a bit different than they might be if I were writing them as a young girl in her teens or even early twenties. It is my belief that anyone who is in a position to influence our children should consider the impact they are having on them.
We all are teachers every day by what we say and by what we leave unsaid, by what we do and by what we leave undone.
In an effort to help to bring about significant change it is important for us to consider whether we have any responsibility to our children. That statement may sound rather odd and many may rant and rave and say, "What is her problem? How could she even suggest such a thing? Of course, we have a responsibility to our children?" But in the larger sense, do adults have a responsibility to children they do not know, to children in general? For me the answer is clear and not one to ponder but it is not so global.
Learning how to put the pieces together and to recognize the letters...
The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.— Anatole France
Give Children Skills to Face Decision Making Time
In a few short years our future will be in the hands of the youth who are modeling after behavior they see every day. Actions and words that we use today send a loud message each time that children are in our presence.
And even more important, the positive ones should be like an armor for them when they are out of our presence and need a reservoir of strength of carry them through what they face. They negative ones travel with them as well and leave them unprepared to handle situations that they will encounter.
Learning to make wise choices
It does not need to be a public figure that influences our children though. Those who are said to influence children the most are parents and teachers. That is a huge responsibility whether we choose to believe it or not. Children look to us for guidance, answers, and coping skills that will enable them to make choices, to be equipped to live in this complex world in which they now live.
Establishing a foundation filled with values and decision-making skills that will pass the test of time is one road to H.O.W. we may begin to unravel what we see as in great need of repair for our country. Our future does in fact lie with our children even thought that sounds like such an old worn out expression--it is true.
I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.— John Steinbeck
My Parents as Teachers
As I reflected on Anatole's words, I was reminded of the many ways and many times my precious parents did just that for me.
They taught me to be curious, to problem solve, to think for myself, to seek the truth, and much more not contained in any book.
Learning about personal interaction
In our country today, many children are raised by grandparents or other caregivers if for some reason the parents cannot be there to raise them. It will fall to whomever the caregiver is to step up to the plate and be the model for the children. And most do.
I am not in the parent-bashing business. I made some mistakes as I was trying to be Momma and Daddy to my child. One thing I did try to do was to recognize I was sending the wrong message and try to correct it. One way was as a smoker. I was not a heavy smoker but any smoking is too much. I explained to my daughter that it was a horrible habit and to never do it. And I continued to smoke. What message was that sending her? I actually stopped when she was about 12 and not because I was a wonderful parent. I stopped because my sister who was a heavy smoker almost died from smoking. It was truly a wake up call. My daughter was so happy. She got it.
Children will learn somewhere about how to treat others, whether honor and honesty are important, if stealing is ok if no one is looking, if it is ok to like if you do not get caught---the list goes on. If they are not learning about these very things from you, then they will learn from someone. And what they learn may not be what you would want them to learn.
What you say is important. It truly is and many times what you say should be repeated. But more important than what you say is how you live. It is how you interact with others
Learning about his world at the petting zoo
What to do as a Parent, a Caregiver
No one can determine for your family what you will instill in your children as important. That will come from you. All I can say is, after forty years of teaching, what you say to your children, how you live, is what sets in motion the rest of their journey on the planet.
Choosing what you say and do in front of your children will directly influence the rest of their lives.
That is huge. Deciding how to guide your children through their earliest years into their teens is challenging. It has become increasingly more challenging with the presence of computers, internet, and cell phones every where.
These are all wonderful tools but as the parent, the caregiver, being aware and alert will be a source of conflict at times between you and your children. But you are the one to whom the job falls to make the rules that must be followed to protect your children from others and from themselves.
We must, I believe, start teaching our children the sanity of nonviolence much earlier.— Alice Walker
Mrs. Walker said what we know is so true....teaching nonviolence must happen.
This should be written on every billboard every where for all to see every day.
A young teacher had so much to learn...
In the fall of the year that I graduated from college, I perkily walked into the Superintendent's Office in a small town in Georgia. The superintendent interviewed me for a teaching position. I eagerly accepted my first assignment as a teacher of sixth grade students.
I was excited to be a teacher. I was going to set the world on fire. I was so idealistic as a brand new teacher that I was certain that every child would be a shining star when they left my classroom.
Actually I never lost that fire that I felt that first year. But I grew to understand that enthusiasm and excitement would not make it happen. I would need to learn many things that no college, no book ever taught me.
Laugh, Do, Celebrate
Some of the most important first lessons learned were:
- To laugh often
- To act like a child sometimes....imagine, dream, play.
- To remember the excitement of discovering something new and enjoy myself doing the simplest activity
- To know how to say "I don’t know but we will find out."
- To celebrate something every day
You, whether you are in the classroom, can be an amazing teacher
Bring my A+ game every day.
The lessons continued when I learned:
- To sing and move often
- To listen with my heart
- To do more, much more than was expected
- To be the best I could be every day not just on the days when I felt like it.
Laughter....it works magic.
Laughing lightens up everyone's attitude and feelings. Rather than overreacting to an incident I tried to find a way to laugh. It helped everyone, not just a child who may have made an unwise choice.
That is not to say that I laughed off every situation. Clearly there is a time when laughing was not appropriate. We always made the distinction between laughing as a group and laughing at someone. It was made clear that we were laughing at a situation and not at a person.
There are however times when laughter works to calm and diffuse a situation much more effectively than harsh words. I used it liberally. I found that as a result of using it, I was much calmer and more able to help the child or children work through whatever had happened.
I would find times to laugh throughout the day for the sake of laughter. I read funny stories and jokes. We had fun while learning.
Sing and Move
Trust me when I tell you Mariah Carey, Jaylo, Adele, Taylor Swift never had anything to fear when it came to my singing ability.. I gave new meaning to the phrase can't carry a tune in a bucket. There is probably no one on the planet that outshines me in this category.
My children never seemed to notice. They collectively had a song in each of their hearts and wanted, needed to sing. And, sing we did. Sometimes we would hum too. A chance to bring music into our classroom made each of us feel a little bit renewed and refreshed. Those little bodies needed to move to the music. Each child found a way to move to the music that expressed what was felt.
An air of excitement filled the air. Like a welcoming oasis in a desert music offered our brains and our souls a sanctuary for a few moments.
I hesitated years ago to use music too much or even at all. I was afraid it would be unsettling to my children and difficult to refocus on our lessons. The opposite was true. The transition back to our subject matter was made with ease.
The children did not notice that I was not a star. Music was within them and any opportunity to sing and move was welcome.We sang our little heads off. On the way to lunch, at recess, in the classroom...we sang math problems, grammar lessons, and poetry.
Exploring and discovering....
Discovery through simple activities
Children find pleasure and will learn is you make the activity meaningful. Giving assignments, work, made them seem like drudgery. I found other names: exploration, being a detective, discovery lab.
Suddenly, it was interesting and inviting.
We found pleasure in the simplest activities.. One favorite one was GOING ON A FIELD TRIP.
We would take a walk around our school campus. It was called a field trip. Each child was given a clip board, some paper, and a pencil. We would stop periodically and draw some live creature or plant we observed. I did it too.
Our children today are in a world of technology. And that is fine---I am all for it. Children need though to know how to enjoy themselves without a gaming device, a tv, an ipod, a computer. They need to know how to enjoy reading a book one they hold in their hands, play a card game, play checkers, play hopscotch, jump rope, smell the the proverbial roses. My goal was to help them to find the joy in simple activities each day.
Discovering something new brings a sense of wonder and awe. I experienced that on a daily basis when I was teaching. Children helped me keep that sense of wonder. Watching their faces light up as they discover that new thing I was teaching.
It is the source of true learning...that discovery...I wanted children to feel that in our classroom every day.
I do not know the answer...
Be unafraid to say.. .I do not know but we will find out.
Children need to know that you do know many things. They also need to know you do not know EVERYTHING. If a child asks you something that you do not know the answer to, tell them you do not know. Or, if you really cannot do that, you can always tell them to find out and come back and tell you.
That way you can find the answer if you really do not know. And, it does have a real plus. Sometimes the child will go home and research and find the answer. What a wonderful thing that is. But it really is okay for children to know you do not know everything.
Are you a teacher?
C E L E B R a T E
We found something (usually many things) to celebrate every day when I taught elementary school.
Besides birthdays, 100 days, holidays..we found many opportunities to celebrate when a classmate:
- learning their 3's times tables
- learning all of their spelling words
- learning to write in cursive
- learning a list of Dolch or Fry sight words
The possibilities are endless.
- For children up through eighth grade we would celebrate as a class without singling out any one person.High fiving and cheering, to recognize a job well done for the day.
To recognize and rejoice our accomplishments of the day was a great way to end the day. It made the children want to come back to school the next day.
When children would come back to me years later to visit, they would say our daily celebration was something they found they tried to do in their lives each day. It had stuck with them. Awesome.
Go the extra mile
Being a teacher means being willing to go the extra mile. I had the good fortune to be surrounded by teachers who did so every day.
- Giving the extra time to a child who just could not grasp what was being taught even if it meant staying after school hours.
- Buying shoes or clothes for a child.
- Going out of the way to do something special for a family in need.
- Knowing and being aware of the personal needs of each child in class (in addition to knowing the academic needs of each child).
From my earliest years as a teacher who made very little money, I just felt it was the right thing to do. It was unspoken. Children who came to school hungry (back before free breakfast) could not learn over the roar of their hunger. Their bodies needed to be fed and clothed before their minds would be ready to be fed.
I had one little boy who was absent for several days. When he returned, I asked where he had been. "I couldn't find my shoes,' he said. He had only one pair. I looked at his feet and the shoes he had on were clearly his older brothers, much older. He didn't want to miss school. I wish I could say it was because of me. I believe that he came so he could eat lunch.
After I discovered his shoe issue, a pair of shoes appeared in a brown paper sack on his desk the next day. No one would know what was in the sack unless he told them. Somehow he must have known because he set the bag by his desk. At the end of the day he took the sack home. The next day he came in wearing the shoes. Later in the day I found a hurriedly scribbled note..'.thank you'...is all it said. Tears well up each time I think of him.
copyright 2011-2013 pstraubie48 ™ All Rights Reserved
Listening with my heart
Listening, calming, soothing, nonjudgmental was how kids expected me to be. Whenever a child came to me upset or concerned about whatever was awry in their lives, I listened with my heart.
Sometimes a loved one had died the night before and the children would come to school. The better part of the day was spent being available to listen. That was all: to listen. Many times just listening and a hug were the order of the day.
Other times a child would be off. You learn their moods and behaviors and you can tell when something is just not right. Often a child would come up and tell you that a pet had died. They would add that two or three had died in the days before that. They needed me to know. They needed to share their grief.
Maintaining that our classroom was a safe zone allowed kids to trust and often share what was troubling them.
Can someone hear me?
There is one lesson that I learned that supersedes all others. Children taught me to, above all else, listen with my heart.
There were times when something really inappropriate happened. An initial reaction might have been for me to fuss and fuss at the child. Sometimes I did. Sometimes whatever had happened was so serious it deserved that kind of reaction.
After the situation was diffused, the children who were directly involved in the incident would conference with me and each other, privately in quiet voices. At this time the child or children involved would have the chance to tell me from their point of view what happened. During this conference with the children, I listened. This was their time to talk, to vent.
My only role was to listen and to intervene only if they lost control. This was a time for my heart to hear what the children were leaving unspoken. I learned to hear the pain, the anger, the confusion that may have erupted because of something totally unrelated to this present incident.
Making a difference every day
No matter how many issues I may have had before I set foot in our classroom each day, I had to check them at the door. This day belonged to the children who were entrusted to my care.
My A+ game was the best I had to offer and I had to bring it every day.
Each day was another day to be grow and learn for the children and for me. I learned so much more than I have shared here.
Did I mention patience? Oodles of patience. Not one of my strong suits when I was a young woman but I learned that rushing and a hurry mode often was counter-productive. And it carried over to my home and caused me to be more patient with my daughter.
Teachers today are on the front lines every day trying to make a difference in the lives of children who are growing up in a complex society, a complex world. Today's teachers too are learning lessons that are enabling them to create the best of all possible learning environments for children that enter their classrooms.