Helping students to internalize knowledge, skills, and mindsets (one of those tfa phrases that has stuck with me!) is a large part of what we do as teachers. Of course, there’s also bringing out the positive already in the child, but that’s for another day. What I’d like to celebrate today is those parents, coaches, and teachers who have helped their children to internalize attitudes of respect, responsibility, and kindness:
“If an elderly person wants to get an ice cream, the kids “part the waters” and allow the person to get in front of them. It’s not a rule. It’s who they are” (Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Rafe Esquith).
Warren St. John reflects similarly on the brotherhood and unspoken values of the “Fugees” soccer team in his moving book Outcasts United, the story of a refugee soccer team, their coach and the small town where they live and play.
Both teacher Rafe and soccer coach Luma, now also a school leader, are deliberate in molding community amongst their kids. They plan with foresight and detail to create a community of integrity, caring, and respect.
As I look to a new school year soon, I too want to set kids up for success in including others, celebrating differences, fighting injustices, solving problems, working together, taking responsibility, being courteous, showing courage, and doing their best. Of course, these have been my intentions since beginning as a teacher, but at this point in the school year I’m tired of collaborative problem-solving, I statements, and non-violent communication as a main prevention and recourse. Nor am I happy with over-relying on consequences or imposing my will on students and situations. Each of these strategies might be useful in its own right, but I plan to do a healthy dose of pre-planning to jumpstart next year’s class community, in the same deliberate way that I do academic planning, monitoring, and reporting…hopefully this will help us to avoid some of the “talking” and do a little more of the “walking” as a class community. Cheers to that!
One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.