The textbooks have been inventoried – twice. The teacher’s editions are neatly stored in the empty desk drawer. All of my treasured papers are filed for my successor. It’s retirement time!
After thirty years, I’m finally going to take that long awaited trip to Europe. No tears are shed, but there are some reflections I have collected along the way. Some nostalgic memories, too, but I’ll save those for another time. Because I had experience at the elementary level, junior high school and high school levels, I had a chance to work with students at all age levels. From this I have acquired the following beliefs.
From my elementary experience I learned that students need to own their own school experience. Mom and Dad went through school, now it is junior’s turn. This means letting them be responsible for everything associated with school. No cleaning out Junior’s desk, bringing his forgotten lunches to school, or doing his homework. If you want your child to value school, you must value it yourself. It’s amazing how children pick up what you feel is important.
As a junior high school teacher, I learned that the boy in your fifth period class who has been to the principal’s office once too often would be the one that would come back to see you with a big grin on his face telling you how well he was doing in high school. This never ceases to amaze me.
I believe students should be encouraged to fight their own battles. They will gain much from this learning experience, and have the satisfaction of having conquered their problem. The next time they encounter their adversary they need to be able to stand tall and look them squarely in the eye. This you cannot do for them.
Don’t lie for your child and expect them not to do likewise. Senior Skip Day is a prime example – give your child the choice to stay in school or reap the consequences.
Lastly, I believe that children should be encouraged to participate fully in school activities, since scholarships and honors are given to those who develop leadership qualities. The student must take responsibility for attaining recognition for performance, as this will impact his or her acceptance for the college of first choice. A good example of this is being chosen for National Honor Society.
It’s been eight years since I put my lunch box on the shelf. I have had some time to reflect on these beliefs. I now have four grandchildren to put them to the test. Nothing has changed.
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