“James Comer says that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship. George Washington Carver says all learning is understanding relationships.” – Rita Pierson
Back in third year college, a professor of mine took a chance – she brought me along to her conference and allowed me to do demo teaching with her. Our audience was amused (and surprised) when my professor told them after the session that I was still a student and an unlicensed teacher. Maybe many of them couldn’t believe that she had the guts to actually bring me there. That experience continues to influence me when I’m with my students. I’ve learned that I can trust my students and share the learning experience with them. I can learn just as much (and at times, even more) from them as they can from me.
As a teacher, I’m quite particular about the classroom culture I set for my students. From my very first advisory class seven years ago, up until my current one, we’ve always had two recurring themes – family and memories. To help my students feel the love of a community and create happy memories, I invited one of my former students, Matet, to share about her experience in third grade last year.
Matet went through third grade four times – yes, four times! She’s had her fair share of family problems back in the province and was only able to finish grade three last year. What struck me during her sharing was what she said about our class, 3-Masayahin:
“Ayaw ko pumasok dati.Tinutukso ako lagi kasi matanda na ako. Masaya pumasok kasi may suporta ka at malalambing ang mga kaklase ko. Hanggang ngayon magkakasama pa din kami. (I didn’t want to go to school before. They would tease me often for being the oldest kid in class. I felt happy going to school because I had the support and affection of my classmates.)”
After she said that, she pointed to her former classmates, who were seated at the back. I guess I felt like a proud mother – to see that bond of friendship and kindness between them made me realize that even after I leave school, they would be okay. They would have each other to come home to. They would always have those memories of shared happiness and hopefully, success.
Every morning, some of my former students would come and visit me. Each time they would reminisce when they see familiar items like books, good job slips, charts, poems, etc., my heart would swell with joy and it would help me start my day right with my current class.
Rita Pierson got it right when she said, “Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”
But lately, I’ve been giving it some thought and I’ve realized that what has kept me going (and sane!) are my students, both old and new. They have been the real champions in my classroom. As the late Maya Angelou says,
“…when I go teach a class… I bring everyone who has ever been kind to me with me.”
I’m thankful for the hundreds of children that I’ve met over the years. I hope they know that any kind of success that my current students would feel – they are very much a part of it, too. 🙂