Tuesday, August 9, 2011

All I Learned About Teaching I Learned From My Grandkids

There's six of 'em, you know.  Ages 6 to 3 1/2 months. That's a lot of learning going on when you get them all together. And I realized that they are teaching me many things that apply to my classroom (even though I teach high school kids).

Here's what I know:
1. When you are truly scared of something. but confront it anyway, that's real courage. Doesn't matter if it is bugs or deep water or new situations. Just gotta do it.  I need to think about this with new speech classes. Giving speeches is hard stuff--especially for some.  I must make sure kids know I respect them for trying something new and scary.

2. Sometimes, if you want to make a new friend, you have to make the first move!  

3. If you always take no for an answer, you never get to try or learn anything new.  I watched Max today go back to the same cord time after time, even though I kept saying no and taking it away from him.  I know he's exploring his world and that's never a bad thing. My kids at school are exploring in their own way, and I need to remember that!

4. Sometimes you have to make a little noise to get any attention! Babies Hayden and Max have this down to a science. They are happy babies who don't fuss a lot, but when they need something, they make sure everyone knows.  This applies to school in so many ways---don't like how things are being done? Make a little noise. Kids need an adult to notice them? Make a little noise. I need to look at the noisemakers and see if their needs are being met. And sometimes, I need to make a little noise of my own.

5. Think of new ways inside the box. I know this sounds contradictory, but stay with me for a moment.
Babies, especially, don't need toys. They need to explore. Pots and pans. Spoons. Fuzzy slippers. All of these provide entertainment for a baby. Give older kids a bunch of toys and they play with the boxes. Houses. Castles. Rocket ships. Imagination rules. What this says to me is to give my students the idea and let them run. Just because I envisioned it one way, doesn't have to be the way it turns out.

6. Passion changes, but it's always a good thing. Tony LOVES sports--anything that involves a ball. His first words to me in the morning are "Can I play golf?"  It's his passion right now. In the fall, it will be football. In the winter, basketball.  They all have their own passions, and as adults, we try to accommodate them.  School is the same way. Give kids choices as much as possible and help them find their passion. HINT:  It probably isn't school.


  1. Great advice! I'll need to remember this as I get ready to go back to school next week.

  2. Great connections. This advice is useful for anyone, not just for classroom use. Advice # 4 and #5 speak to me the loudest today.

  3. It seems you're wrapping up your lake memories and transferring them onto school plans in a terrific way. You must love kids like I do, any age, just letting them grow and be is the best. I like how you found ways to love your students just as you love your grandkids, although I expect you've done this in the past, too. 5 & 6 are so right!

  4. I love your connections to the classroom. These are great ideas for all of us to remember.

  5. These lessons are so appropriate for school. My favorites are the importance of noise and the need for passion.

  6. I love how you got such important adult lessons out of your interaction with little kids! Great perspective!

  7. I've read this piece several times and keep coming back to it. These six lessons are applicable to all of us, I think. All six are things I should remember in my life. I love the notion of thinking of 'new ways inside the box.' So true that different perspectives within a given structure mean unique creations.