In my classroom I desire, more than anything, for my students to walk out the door a better person than when they walked in. Not just to FEEL better about themselves; but to truly BE a better person. This requires a lot of extra "work" but it's absolutely worth it. I have been in education for seven years and I think of this role in my students' lives often. Whether we like it or not (and for the record, I do) we have an opportunity to have a significant influence on who they become. That being said, there is much more to our job as educators than teaching the curriculum. Yes, teaching the TEKS (these are what guide education in TX for any "outsiders" who may read this) is what we are hired to do but that's only part of our responsibility.
The way we treat them.
The way we respect them.
The way we carry ourselves.
The manner in which we greet them at the door.
Do we ask them questions about their lives?
Do we allow them into ours?
Do we follow through?
Do we go that extra mile to attend their events and let them know we really do care...or is it all just hot air?
All of these things affect how our influence plays out in our students' lives. They are, oftentimes, more perceptive than we give them credit for. They know who the fakers are and they desire transparency/authenticity in everything, especially from those they trust.
This fact has caused me to reflect recently on the level of influence I have on my students. I think it boils down to this:
The best educators don't just know their students. They allow themselves to be known.
By allowing ourselves to be known, we're building trust. Our students see that we're real people. We have successes. We also have failures. We experience victories. We also experience struggles. We make good decisions. We also make poor ones. Through this authenticity, we are earning the right to influence. If we really want our students to learn from us and be influenced by us, we need to build trust. Here are a few ways that I've learned (mostly from educators better than me) to do that:
Attend their extracurricular events.
Share your life.
Talk about your family.
Hold them to high standards.
Do what you say you're going to do.
Give SPECIFIC praise (generic praise is as good as false praise).
How are you earning the right to influence? I'd love to learn from you! Follow and tweet me at @bclarksontx. Until next time...
We have spent the past two weeks in class learning about plant and animal cells and all of their organelles. It's been quite the adventure! My students have worked hard to do research on their own and are in the process now of truly taking their new knowledge to the next level. Writing stories! Here are some samples of the great work so far:
Our stories will have an elementary school audience. The students have complete freedom in the theme of their story and the grade level they are writing for (within elementary school). When students are able to take the knowledge they've gained and simplify it to the point that very young students can understand it, they've mastered the content well enough to teach it themselves.
Overall, when students are having fun, they want to learn. If I can help them reignite a love for learning, I consider that a big win! Thanks for checking out our progress!
It's the first week of school and I'm using some of my time to give my new 7th graders a refresher on measurement and units. We put to use graduated cylinders, triple beam balances and rulers to "grow" gummy bears and compare the differences between one straight out of the bag and after it had sat in a cup of water over night. Here's the result:
The students had a blast with this lab and it was a great way to start the year and get them back into "lab mode". We talked through mass, volume, density, and change over time in this lab and did it in a fun way! Excited to keep doing stuff like this and encouraging them to develop a deeper love for learning.
Follow me on the go at @BClarksonTX on Twitter.
Brent Clarkson, M.Ed.