Tonight I came across a print on Pinterest that embodies three of the things I want my students to leave my class knowing at the end of a semester. There are many lessons I wish I could teach my students and it never feels like there is enough time. Focusing on these three things helps me to instill value in them but also push them to be even better people than who they were when they first walked into my classroom.
One of the most inspiring movies from the past few years is The Help. Aibileen’s line from that film (“You is kind; you is smart; you is important”) always moves me to tears and reminds me of the role I play for my students regularly. I talk more about that role here.
While I love Aibileen’s imprint on the babies she raises, I think this print from Choose Brave is the perfect representation of the message I want to send to my kids. Here is a bit more about the 3 messages I want to communicate daily in my classroom.
1. You are capable. So many of my students come into my classroom defeated, burned out, and/or apathetic. Most of this stems from their past experiences in classrooms where they fell behind, weren’t encouraged, or were labeled by their behavior or learning disability. If they haven’t experienced those feelings at school, they’ve most likely felt them at home. (Community/family support is difficult to come by here.) I want my students to know that they can do whatever they put their minds to– no matter how challenging or seemingly impossible.
2. You are brave. The majority of our student population has never seen outside Monroe. They don’t know that there are other possibilities out there, just waiting to be seized. This is why I encourage students to try new things– whether that’s registering for Chemistry with my dear friend Brooke, applying to an “out of reach” college, or picking up a book to read all the way through for the first time. Sticking with the same old, same old isn’t acceptable in my eyes. It’s time to branch out.
3. You are significant. My students have a place in this world– they do not just take up space. They matter. I’ve had a student tell me before that I was the first person to ask how her day was going– and I had her in 4th period. I have students who feel worthless because of the words screamed at them when they go home. I have student who do not know what it means to have someone invest in them, care about them, or cheer them on. I want my students to remember that as soon as they walk into my classroom, they have an advocate, cheerleader, and Mama Bear in me.
I want to be clear. My students are not perfect. Neither am I. We have our rough days together, but we also have really special days where everything just clicks. No matter what I’m teaching on a given day or how bad the day before was, they know that I care about them and want what’s best for them. And that’s all I can ask for.
If you are a teacher, what do you want your students to remember about your class beyond your content? If you aren’t a teacher, what do you remember about one of your favorite teachers that always stood out to you?