This US teacher challenges teachers to remember what they were like as students.
We’re Better Teachers When We “Remember When”
I believe the strongest teachers are those who remember who they were as students. It’s a way to relate to those kids in your classroom that remind you of yourself long ago. It’s also a way to challenge yourself to relate to those who are least like you were, and forgive the discrepancies that come with those poor decisions that can result from just being young. There’s ample evidence that, during your school years, you’re programmed to make mistakes and do things you regret. But many of us as adults have blocked the memories out so entirely that we become less forgiving of students making those same mistakes. Looking back at who you were helps put in perspective those students that you have now and their inevitable stumbles.
Try developing your own list of memories sometime. Need help jarring your recall? I’ve developed a list of questions to help. See if you can answer these. By remembering what had the greatest impact on you when you were a student, I’m convinced you can become a better teacher.
Who Were You In School?
To help you in your own education reflection, here are some questions to get those brain juices going. Think about the grade you currently teach, and then look at the questions to reintroduce your current self to your past self.
1. Did you have a nickname?
2. What were the names of your 5 closest friends? Did you even have friends?
3. How did you choose to spend your lunch or recess?
4. What music were you listening to?
5. Did you play a sport?
6. Were you involved in an after-school activity?
7. At what age did you see alcohol or drugs for the first time?
8. What was the name of the person or persons that you liked more than as a friend?
9. What did you gossip about?
10. Had you ever passed notes in class?
11. Did you have a favorite teacher? What was his or her name? Why was that person your favorite?
12. Were you in a clique?
13. Were you a bully? A protector? A victim? A bystander?
14. How did you get to school?
15. What movies came out during that year?
16. Do you still own anything that you made at school during this particular grade?
17. Do you still have any friends that you’ve had since that year?
18. Did you have a favorite expression during this time?
19. Did you ever do something during those years that makes you wince?
20. Is there a direct line between who you were then and who you are now, or are there only faint traces of that student in the person you’ve become?
Remember, who we were as students may contribute to the people we are now, but it isn’t set in stone. Keep in mind that all kids of all ages are fully in the throes of a developmental process that guarantees they will make mistakes and bad decisions. A teacher, a great teacher, helps them learn from their missteps, shake off the guilt of having made them, and moves them ever closer to being the person they have the potential to be.