Yesterday, I read one of the best books ever written for educators, Crash Course, by Kim Bearden, Co-Founder of the Ron Clark Academy. As a passionate teacher, my educational library is quite extensive, having read dozens of texts, but none of them hit my heart like Crash Course.
Reading Bearden’s work brought me back to a moment in the halls of my own school not long ago….
A few weeks ago, as I sprinted down the hallways to my room, a fellow teacher caught me in the hall. “Good morning!” I stated enthusiastically. “Are you ready for a great day with your students?”
She was silent for a moment then almost in a whisper stated, “That is what I like about you. You always put the kids first.”
“What do you mean?” I asked a bit puzzled.
“What I mean is..it’s not about you, ” she bluntly replied.
I smiled and continued walking on, thinking on this morning greeting. All that came to my mind was, “How could it be about me?”
Call me naive, but education is about the kids, isn’t it?
As an educator, I’ve found that when I keep students at the heart of all I do, certain attributes float to the surface. These attributes were among some brought to life in Bearden’s book, which lead me to this reflection.
1. Courage- Knowing our students is everything. By fostering relationships with our students, we develop courage to create educational experiences in which students thrive academically and emotionally. We know when to push, and when to back off. Most importantly, we can reach the needs of all students in our charge by bringing out the best in them, so they can achieve greatness!
2. Optimism: Children want to believe! What wonders they are to behold and work with every day! All it takes is a smile, a happy attitude, and an excitement toward learning and students are right there with a smile! What wonderful energy to be surrounded by daily! Their faith and optimism helps me to let go, and enjoy the ride. No need to stress!
3. Tenacity: When as educators we are working for the true betterment of our students, we grow as tenacious individuals! Nothing but the best will do! We continue the fight–not to make our lives easier–but to make their lives better. This may be a guest speaker, a field trip, a service project, or lesson that seems impossible at the start, but realizing the positive impact it will make for our students, the work becomes fun, almost like a scavenger hunt, if at first we don’t succeed- try, try, again! Why? Because the reward is so amazing! Seeing the positive impact on students’ lives is worth every hardship or setback!
4. Creativity: I never considered myself a creative person, but placing students at the center of my lessons drives my creative abilities to the surface. I’m not sure how some educators can handle a long day of disconnected students, but it is something I can’t handle for more than a couple minutes! I want them engaged and learning! I’ve learned that creativity is at the heart of engagement. But, this doesn’t have to be a hardship. In fact, it can be as easy as asking the students sitting right in front of us–they are wonderful idea makers!
5. Gratitude: Not everyone can be a teacher. It is a special calling, and one that should be celebrated. I am so grateful for the lessons that my students teach me every day, and the parents that entrust me with their children’s education. It is a true blessing, and I am eternally grateful for each and every day that I can step inside my classroom.
These attributes are just a few that came to the surface of my mind and reflected on as I read, Crash Course. Bearden illustrates many more throughout the book, but the glory I found in reading her work is that every one of these attributes has–the students–at the heart of her work.
Bearden’s journey is one that all educators should reflect on…Because, it is all about the kids, isn’t it?
After the Christmas break, I’m starting a teacher book club with a fellow teacher friend. Bearden’s work will be at the top of our must read list! I hope all educators take the time to read her beautiful journey! It’s worth every minute!