What Will Your Students Remember? The thing is, when you think back to when you were in school, what do you remember? Do you remember the day to day lessons? Probably not. Homework? Not fondly. What I remember are the times when a teacher made me feel special or smart. I remember my first grade teacher asking me to stay after school. I, of course, assumed I was in trouble and tried to sneak out of the door without her seeing me. She tugged at my jacket’s hood as I walked by and after everyone was gone, she gave me a little porcelain doll. To this day, I have no idea why she gave it to me. But it meant something. It made me feel special and cared for…I had a (sometimes) difficult childhood, so to me, it meant she liked me.
Recently I was reading the book, Positive Discipline and read something that touched me. It was talking about how so often we hear people (teachers and parents especially) complaining about “kids today” and how when they were kids ‘you did what you were told,’ you obeyed unquestionably and with respect. The author suggested that kids aren’t the only people who have changed. Adults have changed. Wives no longer obey their husbands unquestionably, minorities no longer do “what they are told,” husbands are less likely to work at a job where they have no input. As a society we have changed. Now granted, it is for the better mostly, but with change, there is always a little bit of nostalgia lost. But do we really want to go back to a time when there was “obeying” with no feedback or input, learning with no reason other than we were told to?
What do kids remember? Probably a mix of their (and your) best and worst moments, like getting in trouble or being embarrassed and those moments like field trips or science experiments. I’d like to think my students remember more than worksheets. When I speak to my former students, usually they have some story to tell about something funny I did or art project we completed that they still have. My middle child struggles at school. This last year as his teacher, I worked harder than I ever have in the past to make school a positive, fun environment for him. I worked harder than I probably ever have in the past. And it worked (for the most part). Jack is way less negative about school. He sees school as a place where he can ask questions, find answers, and have fun. He sees school as a place where he was successful and had good “grades” and good behavior. Is that to say he never got in trouble? Of course not, there were some really tough days. But I chose as a teacher to focus on the good days and not make a big deal about the bad ones. I chose to give him chances, more than I can count to improve his behavior. He likes school, as much as an 8 year old boy can. I want every student of mine to feel that way. And to remember a lot of fun and positive experiences at school.
Like the time we…
launched Alka Seltzer tablets in photo canisters or inflated a balloon with yeast
or the time we spit watermelon seeds and measured the distance
or when we made bread in class and ate it!
What do you remember most about school? I bet it isn’t a worksheet or memorizing facts…I bet it’s an occasion or a feeling, positive or negative that was special or tragic. Let’s try to make our students’ days special. Let’s do our best to focus on the positive and not let the negative take over. What we do in the classroom will either have a positive or negative impact on them for the rest of their lives. Let’s do our best for them. What Will Your Students Remember?