Why Bother To Temper Your Desires?
My teacher’s heart longs for my students to succeed while under my tutelage. Therefore, my instruction and delivery of the curriculum I am responsible for teaching is full of gusto, fervency and sometimes a little too much intensity.
Every year I get a new batch of students and I have less than180 days to bring them up to grade level standards in Math and English Language Arts. I teach other subjects as well, but hone in on math, reading, writing, comprehension and grammar because my “kids” will be tested thoroughly by state tests at the end of April. How well my students perform on these exams, determines if I did my job or not.
Although not all my students will necessarily do well on these tests for a lot of different reasons, if you were to ask them if I did my job or not, they would all raise their right hand and say, “Yes, Mrs. Luikens has done her job.”
My students are a mixture of personalities and abilities. Some are very serious minded about academics. They work independently, help others who struggle with an assignment and sense the intrinsic value of their academic success. They like learning, have adopted good study habits and score high on those state tests.
Other kids in my class still grapple to understand the concepts taught prior to fourth grade. They can’t remember how to regroup in order to subtract, they read and write below grade level and their endurance for learning is short. When I tell them they have to do an assignment independently, I hear their groaning and watch them pull on their hair. I know it is painful for them, but I also know they have to learn to think for themselves.
Finally, there are those who find creative ways to avoid listening and working. They stare out the window, doodle on their desk, or distract their neighbor. They do not see the value in learning anything that they cannot understand in five seconds.
My classroom is a mixture of the mature, and the immature, the motivated and the unmotivated and they all get me for their teacher who holds up the same standard for all of them; “Come on, do your best!” It is up to me to either light a spark for their learning or keep their fire for learning blazing hot.
One morning, I was critiquing the writing of one of my students, “You need to go back and correct your spelling, I don’t see that you started your sentence with a capital letter and you only answered part of the question, and not the other part.”
This student’s spark is a little dim, but still there and interrupted me by asking, “Mrs. Luikens, are we going to celebrate St. Patrick’s day? When I was in second grade our teacher…”
I didn’t answer her, and instead pointed her back to her desk and her work. Yet, the other morning I found myself looking for a four leaf clover my kids could color and thinking about a game they could play on St. Patrick’s day. Though I have a strong desire for all of my students to do their very best at all times, sometimes I have to step away from my gusto, fervency and intensity. Sometimes I have to learn from them.
Why bother to temper your desires? It is worth it to acknowledge what we hope to see develop in someone else, but it is also worth it to remember that they have hopes for us too.