Top 5 Reasons I Love My Students
By Karen Salsbury
Let’s face it, some days we need a reminder. It can get really hard during the long winter months to remember why we began teaching in the first place and why we actually like our students…let alone love them. When we take a moment to reflect on these reasons, we start to see the good in our kiddos. This makes us a better teacher and motivates us to come up with the best learning strategies ever. So here are my top 5 reasons for loving my students.
1. They Make Me Laugh
This is first because it’s the one thing that will always remind us of how much we love our kids, and it’s the one thing that can turn a bad day around to a good one. My students making me laugh is never truer than at about the time when I’m trying to explain a hard concept to them and someone comes out with a zinger. Now many times in order to keep the kids on task and to keep this from becoming a habit that the kids form to get me off task and negate learning, I will some-what sternly bring them back around and remind them to stay focused. But some days, I admit I just can’t. Many times students will say something that makes me giggle. We all have a couple of class clowns, but in this case, it is a student who rarely says something funny and is focused on their learning. This is when I chuckle with them for a few minutes, let them respond and have a very much needed off-task moment to relax and just enjoy each other. My students are surprised when I allow this because I am usually so focused, but that’s what makes the moment even more special. Of course, there are times that I spend smiling on the inside because I don’t want to get my kiddos off task. Those are precious and sometimes can’t be laughed at out loud because we don’t want to offend them in any way. For instance when they totally get the meaning of a word incorrect, and what they say is such an oxymoron that you can’t help but laugh.
2. They are Endearing
All kids (even my 7th graders…ugh!) can be endearing. Each and every one of them have endearing qualities; now granted some of them hide it better than othersJ, but it’s there. I have a student that is considered legally blind but can still see up close and wants to be treated like a “normal” (his words) kid. He comes in every morning and puts all the chairs out for me. I have another student that will pick up things others drop on the floor and hand it back to them when most kids just ignore it or don’t even notice. I have another student that no matter where I see him, in the hall, after school, etc. always says “good morning” or “hello Ms. Salsbury” to me. While this may not seem like much to you, remember I teach 7th It is considered “uncool” to speak to a teacher unless you have to. I can go on and on, and while these instances may not seem like much, when we stop and notice they are extremely endearing. They are gentle reminders throughout the day that our students are not just robot learners, they are people who care. We have a negative teacher on our team. You know that one I’m talking about. There’s one at every school. There are four core teachers on my team, and one of them is the “negative Nate.” He comes in frowning and complains about the students. This is catchy. Once the complaints start, it’s easy to jump in and add our two cents worth, but remember two cents doesn’t buy anything in today’s world, and wouldn’t you rather start out the team meeting with a “hey, Johnny surprised me today. Do you know what he did?” and proceed to tell something endearing about the student. You would be surprised at how this can turn a meeting to positive very quickly and change your day, as well as your school year.
3. They Teach Me Things
Wow do I ever learn a LOT from my kids! Some class discussions might revolve around a trip my students have taken and the things they saw and places they visited. This makes me want to go there as well. Or another students talks about their home life and are from a totally different culture from mine. For instance, as a Christian I automatically assumed that Muslims do not celebrate Christmas. I was wrong. Several of my students have told me they celebrate it and that Jesus was a prophet to them. They also say it’s more like our “New Year’s Eve” celebration. Good to know even though I realize this may not be the case for all. Many of my students are from Mexico and their families still live there. They go home a lot for a visit. I love hearing their stories when they return. I have one student who literally carries around textbooks and reads them like an outside reading book. I never thought of doing this. His knowledge is over the top, and I have also read a lot in my lifetime. I always carried a book with me everywhere I went. I would spend winter weekends reading a whole book, and even I don’t know a lot of what this kid knows. His thirst for knowledge is amazing. I’ve had honors students who are like this, but rarely a student like him that is a little more average. I also learn new teaching strategies from my kids. I’ll plan what I think is the “perfect mini lesson”, and before I get it presented fully, I have completely changed my thinking. This is because of the feedback I am receiving from the students. If only we could harness all this knowledge, but collectively it amounts to amazing classes, in-depth discussion, and learning for me, the teacher as well as the students.
4. They Humble Me
I am regularly reminded of how much stress these kids have to bear. From a horrible home life, being “on” all the time through technology, to dealing with peers, students today face a large amount of stress. Some handle it very well, and some badly, but for the most part I am amazed at students who rise above it. I work in a low socio-economic area. This has its own challenges, but I also realize that an affluent area has a lot of major challenges as well. For my kiddos there are numerous stress-inducing issues. For instance, dealing with a pot smoking parent who allows them to smoke, too. Or it might be the challenge of having to always be the best at everything they do in order to get into an Ivy League college or win awards, make varsity, etc. Some students are always at home alone with only the TV and game console. These students suffer from lack of love and attention from their parents. While others silently get bullied and we teachers never hear about it. Kids can be sneaky like that. I could name many other things that cause our students stress, but watching them rise above it is so very humbling for me. It can break my heart, and it can warm my heart at how amazing these kiddos are. I just have to stop some days when a kid is mouthing off, look at their face, their body movements and decide whether this is their personality, or did something happen to make them lash out. I can tell many times because if this isn’t their normal action or how they respond when I try to calm them down. I even have to stop and observe on more normal days because some students do not wear their heart, they protect it. I have noticed that many times, my mood dictates how the class goes. This is not always the case, though. I start off in a great mood, and some student decides that this is the day that I need humbled.
5. They Make Me a Better Person
If I didn’t teach, I probably wouldn’t have as much cause to look at myself and my actions as I do. We all know that taking hard looks at ourselves is necessary sometimes, but also a very, very hard thing to do. Interestingly though, it’s not as hard for me now as it used to be. I am constantly taking a look at my thoughts and actions through the eyes of my students. Some days, I’m pretty ok, but there are others that make me feel shameful. Did I really give that student who was lashing out at me that hateful look? Oh my goodness! How wrong is that? Even though it happened only once, I still look back on that day and remember. I will never do that again. Now, I constantly talk evenly and kindly back to students who are not being appropriate. I get calmer and quieter instead of my blood boiling. I know that it’s not necessarily me. I know that they treat others this way. I know that their parents also have the same issue with this student, and so on. I never want to be the problem; I want to be part of the solution. It’s my goal to treat every student with kindness and respect whether they deserve it at that particular moment or not. Every student deserves dignity and grace. I find that if I can give them this, their lashing out is weakened and lessened. “Yeah, but they started it!” you may say. They may have, but I plan finish it through gentleness. I believe this makes me better on the inside, kinder, humbler, and happier. Granted, no amount of kindness can calm some kids down when they are bent on lashing out. In those cases, they would need to be removed from the classroom. But, I find that many days, my calmness does bring them down; however, they may need to step out and visit with a counselor because whatever is going on might be bigger than we can really stand. Be happy, be brave and learn from these incredible humans!
That’s my top 5. What did I miss? I really want to hear your comments because I learn from you. Comment here for free or send me an email. Caring is sharing. Remember, we can't exist without others, so please if you enjoyed this article, please share. Re-post this on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram so we can inspire others. You are special. firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!
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