As a part of Teacher Appreciation Week, district administrators and coaches subbed for teachers, so they could enjoy a nice, long, well-deserved lunch with a colleague. Treats are nice, but the gift of time is pure magic. I also think more leaders need to spend time teaching in classrooms, so they can fully appreciate the level of energy and work required to do it well. I had the pleasure of subbing for a 4th grade science teacher. In a two hour period of time, we learned science, we practiced math in a skills group, we enjoyed lunch, and we played at recess. The pace of a school is swift and energetic!
I have chills has I write this next reflection. Kids. Ok, now I’m tearing up. But kids never cease to amaze me in the best possible way. Students are just so so innately GOOD. Students were incredibly welcoming to me which also says a lot about the classroom community that was strategically built with the teacher. Students were SO EXCITED as I went around the room, asked their names, and asked them to tell me something they loved. While students shared briefly, we saw connections forming between all of us. There were so many things that we had in common. After that moment, we got to work and a student raised their hand to say, “You didn’t get a chance to share about yourself, Ms. Lawson.” Wow, that really tugged on my heart. What a beautiful soul to make sure that we made space for everyone’s voice to be heard. Including mine. Our young people don’t have to wait to be what the world needs and to make this world a better place. They are making a difference now.
As we made our way to recess, a student invited me to not only be on his kickball team but to be the captain! Wow, think about that. Much like being line leader, being a team captain feels like a big deal in elementary school. What a gift. Way to make me, the new girl, feel like I can expand! Way to not only make me feel included but make me feel special and in the center of the action. I’m sure that wouldn’t work for every person or child, but he sensed that I could handle it and would enjoy it.
This student also made sure I was equipped to be captain. He would quietly check in with me both about kickball rules and about what strategies I might personally use on offense and defense.
When I ran the bases and scored, students were jumping up and down and cheering for me! Is there any better feeling?! To see kids genuinely enjoy and be excited for someone else’s individual success fills me with hope for the future. There was a child with special needs who also joined in the game. He, like me, didn’t understand some of the rules and received support from peers. They cheered when he got to the base. When a student seemed worried about the score and whether his student’s run was a fair one, a student came alongside them and explained, “Let’s not worry about the score. We are just having fun at recess.”
Kids need and deserve recess. So many life lessons are learned at recess. Lessons like context matters. Sometimes it’s about the score and sometimes it’s not. But it’s always a win when we elevate and support others.
There are people out there who have a lot to say about our young people. Many of those people aren’t spending time with our young people.
As someone who spends a lot of time with young people, I’m here to say:
If you want to be filled with hope for the future, spend time with students and educators.