Every single morning when I walk into my classroom, I remind myself of one thing: These are kids.
Kids who love to laugh. So make them. It's amazing how much trust you gain in a child's life when you laugh with them. When you laugh with them, sometimes make it loud and long lasting, the bend-over-and-rest-your-hands-on-your-knees kind of laugh. Taking the time to laugh with our students can be hard. After all, we have rigorous standards to get through and a class full of kids we don't want to lose control of. But, the thing is, laughing with your students actually improves their chances of learning and behaving. An environment that has laughter will win their hearts and increase their school satisfaction, which will impact their learning and behavior in a positive way. One of a child's greatest desires is to laugh. Let your classroom be a place for just that.
These are kids who need to move. I mean NEED to move. Not only do they need time to run around and play, like in recess, but they also need to move around our classrooms to learn. Sitting in a desk all day does not meet the kinesthetic needs of our students, and a quiet classroom with kids working does not prove they are learning. Our classrooms needs to be a place where they have the ability to move, and recess needs to be a top priority. Their brains will function better! Movement will help learning go further since they were given the chance to move.
These are kids who will jump at the chance to be creative and explore. They'll listen to you teach, and they'll do worksheets to learn, but they don't want to do that all day. There is a time and place for a good lecture teaching or paper-pencil lesson, but true learning takes place when the children are exploring and being creative. Give them a project to work on, content to discover, and let them explore. Then you will see their learning come alive. This is when critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity takes place. This is when their faces show the excitement that engaging the brain brings. This is what creates life long learners. Besides, I've never seen a child jump at the chance to do a worksheet, have you? "Worksheets don't grow dendrites."
These are kids who don't always make the right choices. They mess up. Sometimes they do something that doesn't make any sense at all. But these kids are works in progress. They don't have it all together. Some do more than others, but none of them are perfect. A doctor wouldn't have a profession if he only had people who were perfectly well. A doctor doesn't grow baffled at the fact that he has a sick person on his table. He knows his job is to find the cause of the symptoms and help them heal, no matter how badly sick they are. As a teacher, we have broken students who need us to find the cause and help them heal. We can't expect them all to come to us fixed. Sometimes we expect them to act like adults. Remember, they are just kids. Sometimes we compare them to ourselves. ("I would have never done that when I was a kid.") Never forget where so many of these kiddos come from. You don't know where they came from before they walked in your door and where they are going when they leave. So when that student doesn't turn in her homework, don't degrade her. Don't complain about her in the teachers' lounge. She's broken. She needs your help and guidance, possibly because she isn't getting it at home. Guide students in the right direction with patience, understanding, and love. Don't give up on them. Be the one who believes in them.
These are kids. We have a classroom full of kids with kid-needs and kid-longings and kid-desires, like being silly, running, creating, and having someone who will be patient with them. One day they won't be a kid anymore and they'll have the rest of their lives to live like adults do. Don't ask them to do it any sooner than they have to. Their kid-ness is pretty special.
These are kids. I don't ever want rigorous standards, or standardized test pressures, or busy deadlines to forsake the fact that these kids deserve the right to be kids.
So, when you come in my classroom, it might seem messy to you. It's not out of control, I promise. It's just kids being kids.