Reflective Teacher Day 11

Happy Veteran’s Day! And thank you to all those who have served to protect our freedom here in the US.

Day 11: What is the most important ‘lesson’ you want to teach your students?

Is it possible to pick just one!? I want my students to learn so much!

I want them to learn compassion – as a Spanish teacher in a rural area I deal a lot with the attitude that “If they want to come here, they should learn English” or other similar variations. One of my goals is to teach compassion by opening my students’ eyes to the realities of life outside of our little piece of Appalachia. I also want them to learn compassion for each other. Tact. Manners. How not to use offensive language (the big ones in my class are “gay” and the r-word, or other variations of the r-word that I think some of my students don’t even realize are related). You know, all those things that teenagers are already known for being really good at.

I also want them to learn to think for themselves, and to express and stand up for their opinions. With my 3s and 4s, I love to play devil’s advocate. With my small class of Spanish 4, this is especially effective since they’re smart, opinionated students who have a pretty good ability to make themselves understood in Spanish. It could be anything, from smoking to driving age to bullfighting, but whatever their position is, I try to take the opposite. Sometimes that means I have two positions at the same time if the class is split (like it was on bullfighting), but it always gets the kids talking. They just can’t keep their opinions to themselves if I present the opposite! They don’t really debate amongst themselves yet, but I’m hoping to get them to that point before the end of the year. It’s a great way to make them push their proficiency, but I also hope that it helps them figure out what they think and why before they go away to the big, scary, pressure-filled world of college.

I mentioned this the other day, but I want my students to learn to solve their own problems. It seems like, in today’s smart phone, Google, Siri filled world, the answers to questions are only an “OK, Google” away. And the ability to find answers online is an important skill, but they also need to know how to figure something out, because a lot of times, problems are more complex than a Google search can answer. Ultimately, if they can learn to utilize all their resources (including their brains), rather than just waiting for someone to tell them the answer, they’ll be better equipped for both of the things I mentioned above.

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