Another school year is here. New school. New students. I met some of the students from our school at a get-together last Sunday, but not all of them. I’m so looking forward to meeting them all on Monday!
In a discussion earlier today with another teacher, I mentioned that, early in my teaching career, I viewed the children in my classroom, regardless of age, as my “students.” Granted, I was young and only 4 years older than some of the oldest students at that particular school… but I really kept that teacher/student professional distance that I was warned about. “Draw that line between you and your students” was pounded into my head over and over in my teacher undergrad methods classes.
For me, it wasn’t until my own daughters started school that I started to really think differently. When they became “students,” I wanted their teachers to think of them as more than just students. These were precious gifts I was entrusting to them. I wanted my daughters’ teachers to care about them as individuals, not just as “students.”
As a teacher, that thinking changed EVERYTHING for me. When I returned to teaching in 2009, 445 students became MY kids, too. Learning their names and learning styles wasn’t enough. I needed to know about their passions, their hopes, their fears, their strengths. I needed to remember that each one of those children was someone’s pride and joy… that, even on days when they were not always exactly likable, that I cared enough about them to do what was best.
This year, someone else is teaching some of my kids at that school in Omaha. I moved away, and I miss them terribly. But there’s a new school now with new faces. I will have far fewer names to learn, but my goals are the same. These students will become my kids very soon. I will care about them as the special individuals they are. We’ll learn about each other, respect each other, and become a community together. And when we run into each other at the grocery store, the mall, or the movie theater, I will introduce them as my kids, not my students.
I know that might seem trivial to some… or maybe even just differing terminology for the same definition. But to me, it has made a huge difference in teaching. These aren’t just some other people’s kids in my classroom; they’re mine now, too. How lucky we are as educators to be blessed by all the many children whose lives touch ours!