I’ve done several posts like this over the course of the summer. I think this is something near and dear to my heart. It is a post to teachers from the students. We don’t listen to them often. I mean, we listen to their stories, listen to their questions, and listen to their thoughts, but we don’t always listen to them…deeply…because they are 5 or 7 or 10…and we don’t take what they say very seriously because they say silly things. As an introduction to their thoughts, I’m going to steal from one of my all time favorite books: One Duck Stuck.
As we start a new school year, please don’t get “stuck in the muck” of the stuff “required” of you and “forced” on you and new requirements, new mandates, new administration, and new pressures distracting you from the real goal: Students. Here are a few of their voices.
I want to make you proud. ~Student #1
I want to hear you brag about me in the hallway and to my mom when she picks me up. I want to be the one that makes you smile. I really do. I might not be that good at showing you. Sometimes I’ll even forget that getting negative attention isn’t the same as getting positive attention. I just wanted attention. It makes me sad when you point to me and frown when we’re walking in the hallway and another teacher passes by. I was trying. BUT, I really want to make you proud.
I am not my brother or my mother. ~Student #2
I know you had my sibling or heard all about them from the teacher next door. Whether or not they were perfect or rotten, I’m not them. I might be living in the same house and might even wear their old clothes, but I’m not them. I am my own person with my own uniqueness. I just want you to like me because I’m me…not because you liked my brother or didn’t like my sister. I won’t act the exact same…because I’m me. Give me a chance and I’ll let you know me.
I will try to do what you want me to do…just make sure I know. ~Student #3
I want to follow the rules. The last thing I wanted when I woke up this morning was to “move my owl” or “change my color” or get the dreaded note home. I want to do what you want. I just have to make sure I know what you want. Can you make sure I know? You might have to remind me. You might have to remind me a lot. Sometimes the work is hard and it makes me concentrate on that…and I can’t concentrate on other things. So, can you remind me what you want? I’ll give it to you.
I am not in charge of my schedule. ~Student #4
I know I have homework each night. I also know I’m supposed to read every night. I even want to practice my word wall words…but mom said I had to go to my sister’s dance class. We forgot to bring my book. I know you’ll be sad when I don’t have my homework, and I might get in trouble, but I had baseball last night and I’m really good at baseball. I don’t even have to work really hard. It’s not like reading. It’s so hard…and sometimes I’m convinced I won’t ever do it well, but on Tuesdays I get to do baseball and I get to do it really well. The bad thing is we get home late. By the time we eat and take a bath, it’s too late for homework. I couldn’t help it. I have to do what my mom says.
If you tell me I’m smart, I will believe you. ~Student #5
I wasn’t sure if I could do this “first grade” thing. It’s hard and I have to work really hard. I didn’t think I was smart…but you told me I was and it surprised me. When we were in a group at your table last week and I remembered to look at the beginning and end of the word…you told me I was smart. I didn’t know that. No one has ever told me I was smart. I think when you ask me to read again…I’ll pay close attention to the beginning and the end so you can tell me again how smart I am. Because if you tell me I am, maybe I am.
Could this be what your students are thinking? Listen to them.