Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's "For My Students"

My younger sister is a teacher on the east coast. She's home for the summer, and we've gone shopping a few times together. She has been on the hunt for pillows for her classroom--she is required to have a "homey" classroom.

Her complaint was that by the end of the year her pillows are dirty--so she was debating pillow covers and outdoor pillows (which she said wouldn't be comfortable enough, what?).

At the end of this one-person discussion, she says, "I spend so much money on my kids."

And, I had to pause at this. I kept my mouth shut, but I wondered... is it really for the students? Do those pillows increase achievement, concentration, learning? Do people that pour money into their own classrooms really do it for their kids or do they do it for themselves and for their administration?

I had a professor once who said every thing we do should be for our students, and while I understand where she was coming from, I hesitate to agree that every single thing should be in the name of our students. I think teacher's need to exercise a little bit of self-perseverance and sometimes that means not grading papers one day or taking a breather from a difficult situation or something else that may be for "you" that may not be FOR your students. Certainly we should try to avoid doing something that is a detriment to our students, but they should not and can not be the only thing we work towards. At least, I am not selfless enough to live like that.

But, I think her point down at the heart of it was more geared toward this very instance. I think sometimes we assume something is good for our students when it's really what's best for us. One of the things I'm really trying to focus on as I plan my classroom isn't what's going to "work" or how can I keep students from flapping their gums all the time--but how can I best help them learn. When I say, "it's for my students," I want it to really be for them.

And if it's for me, I'll admit it and say, that's okay too.

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