Past students that inspire me today

My job as an extended care teacher

When I was an undergraduate, I worked at a private elementary school as a second and third grade extended care teacher. This was probably one of my favorite jobs growing up.

I am a very relational person, and thus a very relational teacher. I heard once that students are not going to learn from you if they don’t like you, and I could not agree more.

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We got this.

Relationship building

I formed a close relationship with the majority of my students, but looking back, there are three that continue to stand out and inspire me. (I am going to change their name, since I am not as close to their parents).

  • Jenny, a second grader at the time. She was full of sass, but also very quiet and respectful. My goal for her was to get her to lighten up. I could tell she was one of those students with the pressure to be perfect on the mind. Sometimes she was just too cool for me. I made an effort to talk to her every day, to smile a little extra when she was frowning, and eventually she started coming to talk to me first.
  • Bobby, a third grader. Bobby was the class clown. He loved to make people laugh and smile, but sometimes he got a little too disruptive. When he got in trouble, he took it personally. It was hard to scold him because Bobby truly wanted to please everyone, he never tried to be disrespectful. In fact, Bobby was always one of the genuinely helpful students in the class. Anything to make you smile.
  • Jonny, a third grader. He was the one ALWAYS getting into trouble. Again, he was not a bad kid, he just did not like to listen. I eventually learned to ignore the bad things he did and praise him for the good. (Unless, of course, the bad things were really bad; they usually weren’t). He was a kid that always got into trouble, and it did not seem to help anything. However, the more I praised him, the more I saw him try to achieve more.

So, let’s review:

  • Jenny, the perfectionist
  • Bobby, the people pleaser
  • Jonny, the trouble maker

The reasons for the inspirations

Why do these kids stand out to me so much? It could be because I invested a lot of my energy into helping each one of them see the good in their hearts.

  • “Jenny, it’s okay to be silly sometimes. Who cares what they think!”
  • “Bobby, I still think you’re great, even if I did tell you to settle down for a moment.”
  • “Jonny, way to be a great listener today.”

However, I think the reason these students really stand out to me is because I see a little bit of myself in each of them. I am the perfectionist, I am the chronic people pleaser, and I do not like to listen to other people. (Does anyone?) Growing up, I really struggled with these qualities- they are stressful! The older I get, the more I am learning not to care what other people think of me. I truly just want to be the best version of myself, someone who makes me happy AND other people happy.

The lesson- love first

One of my classmates and fellow bloggers, Aileen, posted a picture of a quote that said: “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” How true. I wish someone came to me when I was younger and told me that everything was okay, that I did not have to worry so much about perfection.

Each of those three kids is my reminder to be the example that I needed when I was younger. As a nanny, my priority is to love first. A good day is when my kids smile at me. A great day is when they learn something that helps them grow into the best version of themselves. Scolding them gets me nowhere, but loving them always leads to a great day.

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