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Being a 'Teacher' Is Not Enough!

What else are we supposed to do?

If the quote above isn't true... then clearly you haven't been in education. I've been a first-grade teacher for four years and what I've learned in that time is that if your students don't love you... you're screwed. They will not learn. They will not listen. They will not try. Kids do not learn from people they don't like. 

I'm not the "nice" teacher. I'm your average mix of Miss Honey and Ms. Viola Swamp. I also have a necklace that resembles the heart of Te Fiti from Moana... I once told my kids I was Te Fiti, but if they started acting out I'd be Te Ka... THEY BELIEVED ME. Guess who had a quiet classroom for the rest of the day! 

Truth is, I build trust with my kids in the first few weeks of school. I play games to get to know them. I mean really get to know them. I can tell you what they're doing before they do it type of thing. I call them my kids because they are MY kids. By October, my students know my hopes and wishes for them and how I run my classroom. It's not hard to build the classroom climate if you keep clear, consistent rules and expectations. You spend your time praising the good and limit your time barking at the bad. You give regular rewards for great behaviors and hold them accountable for not-so-great behaviors. For first grade... an extra 15 minutes outside at the end of the day is like winning the lottery. Fresh air. Sunshine. It's good for both the teacher and the kids. 

As my students start to blossom, becoming more and more trustworthy and responsible for their learning, I am able to teach. However, teaching the "curriculum" isn't the only thing that's taught in my classroom. We teach love, compassion, respect, responsibility, how to be kind, and trust. Kids learn to love themselves. To trust themselves and their friends. To respect the classroom and the school. They learn how to behave in a public situation. They learn how to handle conflict (although this takes much longer). They learn about compassion and how to show it in more than one way! 

Being a teacher of the curriculum is not enough. Just teaching them what they "need" to know is not enough. I'm sorry, but I'd rather have kids that grow to be adults who are respectful and responsible rather than kids who grew to hate school because they never felt good about themselves. Some kids just don't learn in the lecture way. Some kids just don't WANT to learn because they've been told they're dumb since day one. Would you want to learn? I wouldn't. The goal is to make students feel as if they're the smartest kid in the world no matter what they need to work on. 

My students come in every day eager to learn more. Eager to see what will happen. Eager to earn special rewards. They work hard. They play hard. They are KIDS. LET KIDS BE KIDS without shoving knowledge down their throat. Teach them what they need to know about sharing and kindness while you teach them the Common Core. 

As a newbie teacher, I see daily the classmates I went to school with who hated school not living up to their potential. That's what happens! Get kids to love YOU and love SCHOOL and you'll never question whether or not you are enough! 

Lastly, remember to smile at your students daily. You may be the only smile they have. 

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Being a 'Teacher' Is Not Enough!
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