This last week has been bittersweet. Even though I will still see most of my students over the next few weeks (after school program, field trips, etc.), it was tough to say ‘goodbye’. They threw me a going away party and they all went around and said what they enjoyed about having me as their teacher. I was almost moved to tears when one student said that I was tough on them, but it was because I knew they could be great!! In spite of the incredible challenges I have faced this year with my placement, I would not trade it for the world. The bonds I have formed with the staff and children in my school will never be forgotten. This experience has helped me to formulate my ideas and opinions on what is important as an educator. These are just some of the lessons I have learned.
Collaborate with other Building Staff- two heads are better than 1!
Discipline with Dignity- when students are respected, they will respect you (most times!)
Be Humble- don’t act like you know it all. When students see you at your vulnerable points, they learn that everyone has them and they can be overcome.
Don’t take it Personally- many of the disrespectful behaviors students may exhibit don’t have anything to do with you personally. It is often that they lack strategies needed to deal with their feelings in a more constructive way. When you don’t take things personally, you are more able to attack the problem, rather than the child.
Laugh- there are many stressful times throughout the day, so in order to remain sane, you have to laugh. Do your best to make light of trying situations.
Take Time for Yourself- This is something that I still struggle with personally, but I understand how critical it is to have a life outside of the classroom. The more burnt-out you are, the more that weariness will transfer to the students. Refresh yourself so that you can be refreshing to your students.
Always Look for the Positive- Being a ‘Debbie Downer’ becomes a burden not only to those who have to listen to the constant negativity, but also ‘Debbie’ herself. The perspective you take on the things that transpire in your life/career determine the resulting path those events take. We want our students to be positive and always look for the best in themselves and situations- we should expect the same from ourselves.
It is my goal to live by these lessons that I have found so important to my growth as an educator. I have tried this entire year to practice taking my own advice. If I expect something of others, I should be willing to do the same thing. I know there are many more lessons to be learned on my journey as an educator and I am ready to face them with humility, laughter, and a positive perspective.