10 Things My Students Taught Me
By Rachel Wells
“In learning you will teach, in teaching you will learn.”
In order to be a great teacher, you have to be willing to continue to be taught. As teachers we spend so much time preparing and planning for how to get our students from point A to point B, how to improve test scores, and how to help our students grow, it’s easy to look past how much students end up teaching you!
In my ten years of teaching kindergarten, no one taught me as much as my students. Not a college class, not a peer teacher, nothing helped me grow or learn like the 5 and 6 year olds that entered my classroom each year – and while I was busy trying to make a difference in my students lives, they were also making a huge difference in mine.
Here are 10 things my students taught ME, while I was busy teaching them.
Learning is fun
Kids can turn anything into a game. The most boring tasks can be as fun as a game with a little creativity, and by not taking yourself too seriously.
It’s alright to be wrong and make mistakes
When I was relaxed, my students were relaxed, and we were able to have more fun learning together.
You’re not perfect, and you don’t have to be! Letting your students see that their teacher is human and also makes mistakes, shows them that they aren’t alone – and reiterates that fact that making mistakes is an important part of growing and learning.
There is more than one way to do things
Do an art project with a group of kindergarteners and you will see how many different ways there are to do things! Place your value in the process over the end result.
Kindness is always the answer
The saying really is true – you should never judge a book by its cover. Remember that you may not know what a student is dealing with outside of school, so it’s important to always show kindness, make an effort to really connect with your students as people, listen to what they have to say, and offer them the benefit of the doubt.
Hearing positive affirmations is really important
Whether you are working with adults or children – simple words of affirmation go a long way! And no doubt students work harder and want to try harder when they feel recognized and successful.
Just because I’m the adult, doesn’t mean I have more experience than them
I may have been the oldest in the room, but that doesn’t mean I know everything about everything. From facts about dinosaurs, to learning words in another language – there were plenty of things that my students knew more about than I did. It’s so important to remember that we can ALL learn from each other if we open ourselves up to it.
There is a time and place to be strict
There are times when a teacher is called to have fun and times when we are called to be strict. Times when you need to be an authority figure and times when your students just need a friend they can trust. Building relationships with each of your students is key to knowing when to use each of these roles.
This is probably one of the more important lessons I learned as a teacher. Without strong relationships in your classroom, you really have nothing. Students need to have a connection with their teacher, they need to take ownership of their space, and they need to feel loved and heard. A classroom should be a safe space for your students – and for some, it may be the ONLY safe place/trusted person they have.
You have to give respect to get it
Just because you have the title of teacher doesn’t mean you automatically deserve respect – respect is earned. A classroom based on mutual respect is one that you want to spend time in.
My heart is big enough to love a whole lot of tiny humans
Each year I hated to see my students go, thinking I could never love another group as much as them. Yet every year I felt the same way! Every student that walks through your door will make your heart grow and leave a unique imprint forever.