Sunday, December 9, 2012

Jen's Sunday Post

I walked into a child development class on Thursday at one of the high schools in my district. The students were all on tablets, researching different kinds of birthing techniques in various parts of the world. They were quietly searching and jotting down notes. My thoughts went straight to my own babies and all the reading and research I did when I had them (and how much I was or wasn't prepared...and what I wanted to remember and what I could live my life happily blocking out of my memory...). As much as I pored over baby books and sites and blogs, so much of knowing what it means to be a parent came from truly experiencing it and living it. 
Little Writers at Work
I think the same applies to teaching. I remember having to write my philosophy of teaching for my three-inch thick portfolio that I created my senior year in college. That portfolio was a wonderful piece of work. Everything was slid into glossy plastic sheets. All the sections were tabbed off, labelled, and had coordinating cover sheets. I wrote pages and pages detailing my philosophy of teaching which included citations to learning theorists like Vygotsky (gotta love him) and Piaget. 

At the time, it seemed like it all made sense to me, but after going through the National Boards process, I realized how much my philosophy had changed and how experience in teaching and working with students and their families, but also experience as a parent, has shaped my views on education. It's pretty amazing to watch a child grow and to see them reach milestones. I am so thankful and blessed to have two healthy and typically developing kids. It has been a tremendous joy to watch them grow and to see firsthand how kids develop through stages. 
Totally Precious, Right?
When it's all said and done, all I really want to be able to say that I did as a parent is that I supported my kids. As a mom, I want to do everything I can do show my kids that I believe in them and that they can do anything they set their minds to. My dad helped me develop this mindset when he would tell me again and again, "Anything is possible, if broken down into manageable segments, stabilized by balance and purified by belief." And my mom let me try all sorts of crafts that interested me while at the same time, modeling what it means to persevere when things are hard and to not give up until I get things right. Both of them helped me believe in my dreams, go for them, and not give up until I achieved them. Because of them, I feel like I can do anything I decide to do...and if I do fail, it's about learning and growing and trying again.
I Love Watching Him At Work
This quarter, with new teachers in my district, we shared Marcia Tate's brain-based strategies. We shared a video of Marcia Tate talking about incorporating humor into teaching. It's so important! She shared an acronym to remember for the word "smile":

Show
Me
I'm 
Loved 
Everyday
  
As a teacher and as a parent, I've realized that this is what it's all about. There's teaching to be done but if we don't build positive relationships with students and show them that we are sincere in caring about them and their lives in and out of school, then we can never reach them. And if we don't value them as people, as individuals, then we can't truly know them, let alone teach them effectively. Sometimes what kids really need is someone who believes in them.

I was lucky enough as a hearing itinerant teacher to work with kids in small groups or one on one...and I totally get that it's a different story when you have a class of thirty or more or five classes of thirty or more at the middle/high school level. But I wonder if teachers can make sure every student gets a smile everyday and what that might mean to him or her. I know that I find myself thinking of my sons during the day and hoping the adults at school and daycare are helping them feel nurtured and encouraged throughout the day when I'm not with them. It's what I hope for as an educator and as a parent.

I shared some pictures of my kids writing together. Aren't they completely adorable? I love them so much. Sometimes it's hard to bear them going off and entrusting them to others who I desperately hope will recognize who they are as individuals and care for them the way I would. I get that it's part of growing up but it doesn't make it any easier. They're my babies! Just remember that every student we encounter is someone's baby. And every student deserves your support.
Say Cheese!
If you work with students, I hope you are conscious about sharing your smile with them.
And if you find one day you don't have it in you, find yourself a smile on a stick!
The teacher and the mom in my thank you!

1 comment:

  1. I love the SMILE acronym! Parenting also changed my teaching philosophy. I've always shared that Ohio State instilled in me the philosophy that every child can learn and it's my job to discover how ... After having kids of my own I added ... Every child is a part of a family who loves them more than anything. I always try to see kids as their families do, especially important with our most challenging kids. Beautiful post!

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