They are the future

When I was in school, I remember waking up excited to get ready for the day. I looked forward to being in school, learning new things, visiting the library, being creative and going to special classes like P.E.

Everywhere I went in my school, there were life skills posted on the walls. I knew every single one of them and what I could do to maintain that lifeskill in my own life – even at 6 or 7 years old.

Responsibility, respect, perseverance, trustworthiness, cooperation – just to name a few- were skills not only taught in the classroom, but all around campus because not only was it an expectation of students, but teachers and staff led by example.

My teachers were great! I always felt loved and welcomed at school. Yes, I learned many things, but one thing I won’t ever forget is how comfortable I was at school, with my loving teachers.

I know testing has always been a big deal within schools, but now as an adult, I see and work with many talented and amazing students. Do I want them to succeed? OF COURSE! But I will be the first to tell you that each student excels in different ways. Scores on a test don’t show what the child knows but rather compares them to an expected standard. But how can we measure talent, knowledge and success of young children by a test?

Each child learns in his or her own way and own pace. If a child is moving forward, I believe they are successful and smart. There isn’t one specific way to be smart, so why do we try to measure intelligence with a standard test and why do we make teachers feel like they aren’t doing their job if students don’t do well on that test?

Aren’t teachers under enough pressure? I mean our students are on our mind about 99% of the time. Not to mention, teachers rarely get breaks, including bathroom breaks. What are we supposed to do all day? Not be humans? On top of that, we are constantly wondering if certain students remembered to take their medications, or if the fights at home stopped, or if they had enough to eat, enough sleep, it goes on and on. Students often share a lot of personal information with teachers and many times teachers make accommodations for those students depending on their individual needs. You can walk into a classroom and see a young student reading an extremely high level chapter book, and in the same setting, see a child asleep, another one acting like a chicken and clucking around the classroom, another one struggling to get work done and another one spinning a fidget spinner and looking like they’re doing nothing at all.

It can be easy to want to quickly judge that teacher’s ability to teach his or her students, but the reality may be that the teacher has a special connection with each student and is doing his or her best to ensure that the students are in a safe environment and getting what they need.

Its easy to look at the test scores and judge a teacher. But what those test scores won’t tell you is that Lucy loves to read and her teacher uses extra reading time as an incentive to get her to finish her math- because Lucy hates math. Johnny has been having nightmares every night for a week now, so bad that he cannot get himself back to sleep after them- and today for some reason, he felt comfortable, or maybe just exhausted enough to rest in class. Yes, right on top of his desk and no, his teacher and friends aren’t going to wake him, because they understand that he needs rest. Maggie- over there clucking like a chicken actually puts an extreme amount of effort into working hard in every subject in class every day. She even works with her parents after school on her homework but she  just isn’t learning graphing or reading as quickly as her peers and even though she practices every night, her handwriting is still difficult to read at times. But! her teacher understands and does see progress in Maggie, in fact, she has found that if Maggie practices her acting skills for 6 minutes before jumping in to seat work, she does much better. Lucas, struggling to get his work done, has a desk full of beautiful art that he has created. And Sammy, with the fidget spinner, well he snuck that by his teacher because lets be honest, being responsible for 25+ kids at one time isn’t the easiest job around.

In a perfect world,  we would go  back to the basics and focus on teaching students these life skills. In turn, students would be successful. We wouldn’t measure how “successful” teachers and students were by giving them all a test, but by walking in the classroom or watching them down the hall. Watching students looking out for one another, holding doors, saying please and thank you, working together towards a common goal and overall, just being good human beings.

They are our future, let’s teach them right.

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