Warning… this is rather reflective and pretty (kind of) personal!
Sometimes one bad thing seems to come knocking at the door – and then many things happen. It’s best not to discuss these, as we all have our own hills to climb. But, sometimes amazing things occur too. After the past few months, the end of today brought joy: my Grandpa finally received his driving license back again. Sounds something tiny yet it meant the world to him. And, after a few scares for other reasons, it was a great relief for him to have his car… his home. He would take me to placement (yes, just five minutes away) and we would watch the sun head off to sleep together. It brought happiness like nothing else could have; he has taught me everything. Well, almost. About what? About life. And he is a gem – just like we all have people close to us! It’s great to hear he can be back on the road. It really is.
Our phone call made me think… how could I translate the things he has taught me into my classroom? The simple wisdom of everyday actions can go far. Some of the personality ‘qualities’ he tried to tell me about were love, peace, patience (all of which bring joy). And never giving up… that’s something else too! I was thinking about the mistakes I’ve made and how he has always led me back on track. For instance, prioritising work over studying – and thinking grades are everything! Oh… and skipping lectures. I keep doing that because the Earth has been moving rather fast lately. But, his joy brought a smile to my face. It was perfect timing (or felt like it!) Anyhow, what I need to write about is how his teachings can be brought into my classroom practice!
1. Never lift anything heavier than a pencil. This is ironic because I love carrying a Bergen (super fun to overcome the weight). Yet it’s true: if you don’t understand the theory, the other things are difficult to slot together. This is simply: how do we ensure our students have a deep desire to learn? Well, we find out their interests. Simple question post it notes or flying comments: “ooo, what do you want to know?” That would go a long way. Everyone wants to know a little more about something – they just might not tell you!
2. We each have our own horse and track to ride! I always wanted to be better at English. Always! Maths and me are friends – but English required hours of slog and in fact, I memorised my essays for the exam! Yet, he reminded me that we are each made for something different … and that’s what makes the world exciting. In the classroom, we should have a time in the day where someone can explain something they know to a group/the class. We can all learn from one another: a golden rule, that is!
3. Perspective is essential…That’s a tricky one, but I never understood it until lately. I don’t drink alcohol or fizzy drinks for personal medical reasons… and parties annoyed me! But, I remember meeting a girl who had a food allergy to everything apart from rice and potatoes! When my Grandpa reiterated to me that someone is always worse off, my brain clocked that water and tea is perfect! At school, students will be frustrated when others have that designer bag or that ‘A’ grade: but I will stop them and ask them to fill in a flower of all the things they do have. Being grateful is an essential thought process (of which I still must practice DAILY!) So, here’s to making classroom flowers of thanks… perhaps I see a daisy chain coming!
4. Have patience and just work hard. Stories of his war experiences are humbling. He was a child then, but they had so little. Yet, you must try and be content. They worked long hours and days were arduous! But, he said that giving yourself a day off duties worked magic! Every Saturday or Sunday, you deserve a rest. That is of upmost importance. Likewise, kids need an afternoon off every week (or even merely an hour) to relax and unwind. Even if they haven’t been ‘at their best,’ their brain still needs that time to go “ahhhhhhhh, I can chill now!”
These are merely a few wisdom points that he has given me – and there are many more. Yet, those are up there in the priority list as our classrooms should be like ‘the real world.’ I don’t wish for my students to live in a safety blanket or for their parents/guardians to cushion them up. If we let them fail then give them the advice and tools for coming back as lions, they will do find in Secondary School. That said, we are our students’ safety net, perhaps! It is important that everyday and practical advice is given to them. The small things add up to a massive change – and after all, we all want to be our best selves alongside our pupils.
However, please bear in mind that there will be days when kids can’t concentrate. You’ve had them; I’ve had them. Yet, well, if we take some time out and have a positive mantra and do all the little things, we will make it over the hill! Yes, there are fluffy and crispy golden clouds! (It’s an oxymoron, don’t worry!0 And finishing with my last quote for the semester, my Grandpa always says: You cannot rewrite time, but you can write the future. Every bell is a reminder that students can build themsleves a positive future. Doesn’t just sharpening the pencil show that?