Teacher/Student Memories and They Aren’t Facts and Figures!

While at a Microsoft event as part of the CUE (formerly Computer Using Educators) conference, @RobynHrivnatz asked us about memories of our teachers. She observed that our memories were how that teacher made us feel. Not a math fact, not a science experiment or history lesson, but the joy, the confidence, and a variety of other positive emotions the memories brought forth.

The next day, I popped into a session called CUEBooms – 3 minute mini-talks by a variety of educators. @CoriOrlando1 got up for her 3 minutes and I have to say, it was the most powerful 3 minutes of the day. Her full blogpost is a #RecommendedRead, but, to summarize, here are my takeaways:

"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." -Maya Angelou made with Adobe Spark by @filibuster3 with a rainbow background similar to behavior chartsFirst of all, #KBDB. Know Better, Do Better which is a shortened version of this quote: I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”  -Maya Angelou.

Cori held up her version (found deep in her garage, I believe) of a clip behavior chart. If you have been teaching in the past 20 years or so, I am sure you recognize it. It was often hanging in rooms with clothespins, each pin marked with a student’s name which was moved based on their behavior. Others had a card system with the same color concept. I didn’t use these, but I worked with many outstanding educators who did.

Bitmoji of a woman with brown hair and glasses saying Shhhhh with her finger to her lipsMy point isn’t to call out those who used these classroom management charts. The point is that once you Know Better, Do Better. Would YOU want YOUR behavior advertised to the whole class? How would that make you feel? Is that the memory you want your students taking away from your class? (Teachers: Picture your administrator walking over to the chart during a staff meeting to move your clip when you talk to your neighbor or check your cell phone.)

I have been out of the classroom as a technology trainer since 2008 so my former students are adults. Some have found me on social media. Social media may have its issues, but I have been able to keep in contact with many students and parents.

Jordan Casanova in costume (gold and burgundy dress) for Wicked, the Musical with costumes in the background

I have seen my students perform on stage (left-Jordan Casanova in Wicked), listened to their albums, seen them shine in their own classroom (and then apologize for any attitude they once gave me! haha #karma). I have met their children, their significant others, and, sadly, attended some of their funerals. They were, and are, my extended family.

So what do they remember? Singing “Fifty Nifty” or Schoolhouse Rock songs. They remember sailing on the overnight Tall Ship field trip through the Ocean Institute. Do they tell me how they remember 9×4=36? No, though some remember the finger trick for 9s. Do they tell me they remember how to read the Periodic Table? How to find the main idea? No, they tell me how they felt, how they laughed, how they tried new things, not the standards they learned or the tests they took.

What do I regret? Not realizing until later how much I learned from THEM! I regret in my early years of teaching not having them move more. I regret my tired days when things got to me. (J.A. – I apologize again for losing it somewhat when that eraser flew by.)

What don’t I regret? Staying up during the overnight field trip with L. who was missing home and wanted me to sit with her. Being on campus until midnight working with another teacher for a presentation for the students’ parents. Spending my Sunday afternoons trying to get organized for the week in a quiet classroom. Swapping individual students with my teammates when I felt they could teach a concept (or the student) better.

What about my students do I remember?

  • My 5th grade class asking if they can make blankets for local foster homes instead of Christmas party activities.
  • When K.C. offered to partner with another student because she knew others wouldn’t.
  • When R.S. asked if I was trying to draw a cow and offered to assist. #notanartist
  • When J.C. demonstrated EXTREME diplomacy (she knows what I mean).
  • When C.B. finished singing Sesame Street songs with me.
  • When making eye contact with L.D. so she knew, though I couldn’t intervene, that I knew she could face a challenge.

The list could go on and on and my memory is long!

Do we make mistakes? Absolutely. Teachers are human! I once pulled 2 students aside to discuss why their worksheet results were exactly the same only to be reminded by them that I had TOLD them to work together on it. DUH! 2nd graders felt comfortable enough with me to tell me I was wrong. #ProudTeacher Is that my only mistake? Far from it! Know better, do better!

I had amazing students and incredible parents and am so grateful to still hear from many of them.

  • Love your class, even though there may be years you aren’t sure if you’ll make it.
  • Love your colleagues. You never know what goes on once they leave school/work.
  • Love your administrators, even when you aren’t happy with their decisions and know they may not be the one making those decisions.

KNOW better so you can DO better –

for them, for you, for everyone.