I asked, “If you were to create a genuine bill of promises for each child you will teach this year, what would it include?”
And while the responses were beautiful, they shone of promise, of high hopes for every child, of a community for all, not just those that fit what we have decided school should be like, I cannot help but wonder what happens to those promises when the day gets hard?
What happens when a child pushes our buttons?
When a child refuses to sit down, sit still, be quiet? When they refuse to fit into the box we have created?
Because in that moment how we act says more about the classroom community we are building than any dream or promise we may have made.
The first time a child pushes our limits tells us more about how we define success than what we may have written down in our idea books.
So we should teach the way we would want our own children to be treated; with dignity, with respect, and with love – not just in words, but in action.
We should teach as if we are the determination between that child’s success and that child’s failure because sometimes we are.
We should teach as we would have wanted to have been taught when we were young.
And when a child inevitably doesn’t like us whether it is for a moment, a day, or a year, we don’t blame the child, jump to anger and punishment, but instead step back and try to see what they are really telling us. What their actions are really pointing to. Recognize how we are a part of the situation and the system that is causing this child’s pain. And we should ask ourselves; what kind of future do we want? One filled with success only for those who fit into the boxes of school or success for all, even if they blast the boxes?
So this year we should teach with urgency, not just the curriculum, but the love, and realize that we truly hold the destiny of our nation in our hands every day.
But more importantly than that, we teach the children, and the children need us to see them for everything they are; wondrous, challenging, and deserving of our love, even on the tough days.
That’s my promise for the year.