Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lessons from My Parents - Slice of Life 3/7/17

It's my dad's birthday today. I consider him to be a pretty smart guy. Throughout my life my parents were my twin pillars of strength, guiding me through, showing me right from wrong. They taught me not to follow blindly, to speak up when I saw injustice, to always be kind, to find the satisfaction of doing something myself, to realize that I had a voice and should use it. I appreciated that when I was younger. I value it more than ever now.

I'm given a lot of credit for developing strong relationships with my students. It's a hard thing to analyze, to see how you do that and explain it to someone else. I've tried when I have student teachers, but I think the lessons were laid in my home growing up.

My parents always showed respect for my siblings and me. They didn't want to be the "cool" parents, or our friends. They also weren't removed from our lives or super strict. They found a balance... respecting us, expected us to respect them in turn. Holding us to higher standards, leading by example. When we disappointed them, as I know I did many a time, they asked questions, listened. I didn't always love their rules, that is certain, but I knew without question that they wanted the best for me.

I try to parent - and teach - in a similar way. On Monday a kid in my first hour was rude. I had already spoken to him last week about a similar action. I asked him to wait for me in the hall. When I got the class on track with our lesson, I went out and sat beside him, took a breath, and looked at him. 

In our conversation he shared that he was bored. I explained that was a choice, his, and he needed to own that. I told him I believed in him, that I had told other teachers in the building I knew he had potential, but he was doing his best to prove me wrong. Watching his eyes look at mine when I said that sentence was all I needed. He apologized and we went back into class. As I worked in the back of the room I heard him talking to his group. One asked if I had given him a detention. He replied, "No, Mrs. S just needed to call me on being a jerk. I was. We're good now." 

As I tell my students often, I love them to pieces, but that doesn't mean we're friends or that they have carte blanche in the room. I have teachers tease me all the time for calling my students "hon" or saying that I love them. My thoughts are that I put it all out there. They know how I feel, I know how they feel. From that footing, we build our year together. My parents had the balance right - love, respect, own it when you are wrong, celebrate when you learn - the rest follows. They showed me how to build relationships based on mutual respect and for that, I'm forever grateful. 

Happy birthday, Dad. Thanks for leading the way.
Slice of Life is a challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.