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Thursday, June 8, 2017

they taught me

Most people think that in education, teachers are the only ones doing the teaching. But in an equal amount of our work, it's the kids teaching us. As my 14th year has now wrapped up, I'm thankful to continue to learn from the adolescents who sit in the chairs in my classroom. Thanks to Pernille Ripp for the mentor text, I couldn't wait to write one of my own.



They taught me that how I appear to them on their first day is what matters most, and will certainly set the tone for the rest of our days together.

That they prefer to see me smiling when they come to class, and that even when I am totally annoyed by behaviors, I have to call forth even more patience.

That while it's important to read and write regularly, honesty, integrity, and kindness are always what is at the top of my list objectives.

That in light of a particular political climate, I have found that if needed, I would definitely do anything to keep them safe.

That in my classroom, all cultures, languages, family histories, and stories will be not only valued, but also honored.

They taught me to pick my battles, that having them in their chair rather than walking out my door is always more important, even if it means that they don't engage with me for part of the time.

That they prefer the classroom to feel like home, with different options for seating, and with reflections of themselves in the books in our library and in work lining our walls.


That I need to find far more opportunities for them to create things - to have the space and freedom to work - in an artistic way - from their hearts.


That I should not make up my mind about them so fast, that you can still be surprised by them in the best possible ways.

That it's okay to hug your middle school kids, because sometimes, that's just what is needed to calm some anxiety or show a student that, no matter what, you are there for them.

They taught me (again and again) that they're always watching, and my choices, my words, my actions tell them who I am and what our class is all about.

That consistency and unwavering high expectations really do make a difference, even if they cannot get to that understanding for a few years.

What have your students taught you?

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