assumptions, attention, being a teacher, being me, student voice

All Hail the Kids

I never thought I would be the parent of a child who couldn’t pay attention.  Who had a million ideas in her head except for the one she should be focusing on.  Who tries so hard to look you in the eye yet can only last for a few seconds because that thought she just had is just so amazing and she has to tell it you right now.  Even though you are talking.  Even though now is not the time to interrupt. I never thought my child would struggle with reading.  I never thought my child would struggle with sitting still.  I never thought she would be like this.  After all, I did what good parents do.

Yet, here she is, in a school that embraces her wholeheartedly and yet those amazing qualities she has; her imagination, her need for movement, her sense of righteousness and independence don’t seem to always fit in a school day’s work. She doesn’t really fit the system’s definition of what good girls do.  Because good girls pay attention when asked.  Good girls look you in the eye.  Good girls are friends with everybody.  Good girls know how to do school.  Good girls are teacher-pleasers, peacekeepers, and direction followers.  Not wild girls with crazy hair, incredible ideas, and a need to go go go. Thank goodness her teacher loves her.

My child doesn’t fit the mold of what a girl should be and yet she amazes me.  The stories she tells are far-fetched and fantastic.  The way she carries her emotions and feels others’ pain.  How angry she gets when she feels the world is against her.  How she declares everyone her best friend.  She doesn’t know what good girls are supposed to be like, and I hope she never does.  Because in her I have found an independence I never knew a child could have.  In her I have found the realization that not all girls will act like girls, but they will still be good.  And also not all boys will act like boys are supposed to but they will still be good boys.

All hail the girls that break the mold.  The boys who dare to defy.  The kids who make us worry and yet continue to captivate us when we wonder what they will do next.  There has to be room in our schools for them.  Not just the kids that are easy to teach.  Not just the kids that do as we ask.  All hail the kids who are themselves in a world that tries to define them.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

12 thoughts on “All Hail the Kids”

  1. My first born was like this. School was a struggle for him (and me). He is so creative, loves to use his hands, constantly in motion (still is). He is a great artist, but his 9th grade high school art teacher killed his spirit and he never took art again. He’s now grown into a wonderful man. He helped me be a better teacher to children like him.

  2. I am just putting the finishing touches on a very similar post. I could not agree more about schools and embracing our children for exactly who they are. I hope the days will soon be gone that we have to hope and wish for teachers that will get our children that don’t fit the mold and instead all will embrace kids and their strengths and differences. How wonderful motherhood is. It continues to amaze me and change me and my teaching everyday. Most of all I think that taking these moments to be reflective in motherhood and teaching are so very important!

  3. Pernille I love how your pieces always have kids front and center. A parent’s love is unconditional and that is what makes it so pure. Your daughter sounds like a lot of fun. I am guessing you have read Stargirl but in case you haven’t. The way you describe your daughter reminds me of Susan in Stargirl. It is fun reading about how you cultivate her beautiful spirit.

  4. My youngest son is extraordinary as well. I’m a better teacher because I was so fortunate to have him. He’s labeled autistic, but I think he’s just plain GENIUS!

  5. Yes, one of my greatest sadnesses is how my daughter viewed herself as stupid because she does not fit into a 3D view of a good student with her significant learning differences. I dream of schools that honor each child’s unique heart, soul, being.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s