Posted in Education, Teaching

Reflections on the Year: What my Students Taught Me

Great teachers are the best students.  We love to learn and acquire new knowledge.  It’s what makes effective teachers effective.  I love to read books my students are reading.  I get excited when a new issue of Middle Ground magazine comes out.  I look forward to the summer so that I can read new professional development texts.  Learning about new ways to teach and engage my students makes me happier than a kid at Disney World.  However, it’s not until times like these that I remember how much I learn from my own students every year.

As the end of the year is a mere three days away, I can’t help but reflect on everything I learned from my students this year:

  • Making a wind turbine is super fun, especially when my students figured out how to use the circuit board that I couldn’t even operate.
  • Stop reading books that are boring.  I hate to stop midstream.  But my students made me realize, “Why waste your reading time on a bad book?”  Point taken.
  • Don’t lean too far back in your chair or you’ll fall.  My students figured out just how far back they could lean in their chair without falling despite my many reminders to NOT LEAN IN YOUR CHAIR!
  • Hard work pays off.  Sometimes, it just takes a really long time for that hard work to get done.
  • Having a backpack is overrated when you can leave everything in the classroom.  At times I felt as though the cubby area was a landfill for academic materials.
  • Why explain a concept to the students when they can do it better?  My boys loved helping each other understand difficult concepts in STEM class.  They didn’t need to ask me when they had their peers to work with.
  • Farting is funny and really smelly.  As long as they say, “Excuse me,” I’m fine with a bit of tooting.  It’s natural.
  • Talking is fun even when you’re not supposed to.  This group of students loved to talk, sometimes just to hear the sound of their own voice.  However, it’s hard for me to go to a faculty meeting and not want to talk to the person sitting next to me.
  • Public speaking is scary but doable, especially when wearing a funny wig and hat.  My students worked really hard to prepare for several public speaking moments this year.  The best ones were when they were in costume.  For the faculty talent show a few months back I dressed up as Baby in Dirty Dancing for the final dance scene.  It was super fun and really hard to learn how to dance in a dress.  Oh, and don’t get too cocky going into that lift or you’ll fall off the stage.  That hurt.
  • Homework is yucky when it is busy work.  We don’t give pointless homework, and our students appreciated it throughout the year.  They said, “We hate worksheets.”
  • Pencil erasers are yummy.  For some strange reason this year, almost every pencil the students borrowed from us, came back with a completely broken-off eraser.  Where did they go?  Were they hungry?  We had a Morning Snack.
  • Why tuck in your shirt when you can irritate the teacher by having him tell you 500 times a day to tuck in your shirt.  Seriously, tuck in your shirt!
  • Making funny faces and noise is super fun and therapeutic.  Almost every morning, one of my sixth graders would come up to me and go, “BLLLLSSAGGHJGJGHLKAJDUPODIUHDHLKJDLKJDLKJDLKAJDKL!” while making a funny face.  So, I imitated him every time and did it back to him.  He loved it.  Plus, it was super fun to get on his level.
  • Being a teacher is hard work.  After having to teach the class a math lesson, one of my students said, “It’s hard work being a teacher Mr. Holt.  How do you put up with us?”  I just laughed.

While I’m sure my students learned one or two things from me this year, I learned way more from them.  I love being a student-teacher.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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