Saying goodbye to students is always a difficult time of the year for teachers. We spend a lot of time with our students. For me, I figure about 200 hours of time with each person. For elementary school teachers, it’s a lot more than that. I can’t speak for all teachers, but most of us really love kids, and we try hard to do what is best for them. We learn to love them sort of like a parent does. In fact, legally, teachers are the acting parent (in loco parentis) when kids are in their care at school.
Here is what I hope my students learned from me this year (in addition to the science I tried to teach).
- You can choose to be a “post turtle” or get down off the post and help yourself. “You didn’t tell me I had homework,” “My printer is out of ink,” and “I didn’t feel well last night so couldn’t do my homework,” are all “post turtle” excuses. They won’t get you far in my class or life.
- A strong work ethic will take you further in life than being super intelligent. There are plenty of really, really smart people who are not doing that well. There are plenty of people with normal intelligence who are entrepreneurs and millionaires because they worked hard to get where they are.
- Look people in the eyes and smile. Say, “Good morning,” when you meet someone on the sidewalk. It is rude to ignore someone because you are listening to music or talking on the phone.
- A firm handshake is important. This is true for both men and women.
- Respect the right of others to be different from you. You don’t have to agree with everyone or even believe what they are doing is OK. But it is your responsibility as a human being to be respectful.
- Believe in yourself. Say positive, confirming statements about yourself. “I can do this if I work at it,” encourages you to keep trying. “I’m stupid,” assures you that you’ll never get it.
To students everywhere, know that your teachers care about you. It’s hard to say goodbye to my students, but it is time for them to move on. I will miss them next year. But then next year I’ll have another group to teach. Better get my “post turtle” presentation ready for day one!