It is their childhood… help make it an amazing one

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Life is short.

Childhood is even shorter.

Children deserve to come to school and be excited, challenged and motivated. We have our students, in our space, for one year. During this time, we are creating narratives – stories – with them. What are those stories? What stories do our students tell about their days at school?

On Sunday night, my daughter said “I can’t wait to get back to school to work on my project, Daddy. I love what I am doing.”

Wouldn’t it be great if each student said those words to their parents on the night before school? Wouldn’t it be great if every student was totally engrossed in their inquiries. “It feels like playing” she said later.

The first half of the year, in many schools, can be very business-like. Some things that have always been on the agenda may now be expected to be done with consistency and quality. Some familiar things may be done in unfamiliar and better ways. Some new things may be added to the equation in order to take teaching and learning to the next level. This all takes time and effort. It is hard work.

In the second half of the year, however, there may be no surprises. So, focus on those narratives I mentioned above. Focus on working with students so that each day, each week and each month of their lives at school unfold as interesting, exciting, surprising stories of personal growth and learning. If some old habits need to be discarded to make that happen… discard them. If a few risks need to be taken to make that happen… lets take them. If a few people need to be challenged to make that happen… challenge them.

Teachers put a lot of work into figuring out what our students should or could be doing. But, we also need to take a good long look at why. How do we get our students to want to read, question, write, draw, build, listen, design, argue, solve, play, win, collaborate, research, experiment, notice, think…?

Each day, ask yourself these crucial questions:

Would I want to be a student in my class?

Would I be interested in what we are doing?

Would I be inspired by me?

Would this unit excite and motivate me?

Would this experience stimulate my curiosity?

Would I be at my best here?

You want the answers to those questions to be “ÿes”. You are teachers. It is your purpose in life for each of your students to feel that way. It is your source of pride and satisfaction when they do feel that way. It is what gives you a thrill and makes you feel as though all of your effort has real meaning.

Life may be short. But it is shorter when waiting for each day to end, when waiting for the weekend, when waiting for a meeting to be over, when waiting for the next holiday to come. This time is your time, and it is the most important time for your students.

It is their childhood. Help make it an amazing one.

Image by Patrick Breitenbrach
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7 comments

  1. Leah Osborne

    How wonderful for your daughter to have such a learning environment and the teacher/s who make that sense of wonder and excitement happen. I agree we should all strive to answer “yes” to those questions in our class, for every student in our class. Sometimes the answer may be “no”, but you can make changes to ensure the next day the answer is “yes”. The reflection that comes with asking these questions each day is important.

    • sherrattsam

      Definitely… a “yes” everyday is pretty much impossible. We all have bad days, students and teachers alike. Also, sometimes we need to go through a bad moment or experience in order to emerge into something way more powerful afterwards. Many times I have had to say or do things with students that may have made them go home wishing they were not in my class. But, these were always done with the aim of taking our relationship deeper, getting them out of comfort zones and challenging them to see or do things differently.

  2. Pak Liam

    What an important post, you’re so correct. It is sometimes easy for teachers to get so busy that they ‘lose’ sight of those crucial questions you list.

  3. principalaim

    Reblogged this on principalaim and commented:
    I truly cannot share enough inspiring examples of how essential it is to help children embrace and enjoy their childhood. It is such a fleeting time filled with lessons that hopefully will help them become strong, kind, poised, bright, and worldly human beings. tlb

    • sherrattsam

      I agree… and it is vital that teachers keep this in their minds as they set about each day of their and the students’ lives.

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