September 7, 2010

What they remember

There is a saying, "People will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel." I believe this is unbelievably true when it comes to students. I don't know why it still surprises me, but I am always partially shocked when my students don't retain information I gave them just days (or in some cases seconds) earlier. That's partly why teachers spend so much time and energy making lessons memorable and relatable. That's us saying, "PLEASE still remember this by the time ISAT tests roll around, I beg you!!!"

Anyways, I was thinking today about a couple memories I still have from elementary school. Honestly, my whole family makes fun of me for having the memory of an elephant--i remember trivial, inconsequential things from as young as age 3. I have lots of school related memories, but it's interesting when I think about why some little moments stand out in my mind years later. For example, I vividly remember how, when I lost a tooth at school in first grade, my teacher let me stand on a chair at her closet so I could see my new toothless smile in the mirror that was mounted inside her closet door. I felt so special. Also, I remember my second grade teacher who, when I told her I liked to save the stickers she put on my worksheets to put in my sticker book at home, would save me the backings off of sticker sheets so I could safely transport my stickers home. Sometimes, she would even leave a couple little stickers on the sheet for me to keep. :) what a special treat.

These are two incredibly tiny acts, but here I am, 23 years old, and I still remember. I remember how my first grade teacher understood how important it is for 7 year olds to be able to see how their smile looks minus 1 tooth RIGHT AWAY. I remember how my second grade teacher knew that a little thing like saving little sheets of coated paper could make an eight year old's whole day. And thinking about these special teacher moments, I realize more than ever that it's the little every day acts that sometimes have the biggest effects on students. Every teacher secretly hopes that she'll be the one to "save" the troubled child, or "turn around" the child with behavior problems. But really, sometimes it's those little things we do to show we care that kids remember.

Keeping this in mind, I'm going to make a special effort this week to connect on a personal level with each of my students and make them feel special, even if just in some little way.

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