Sunday, December 28, 2014


I will always remember this moment. It was in March 2013 right after our annual Texas Public Schools Week celebration. You see, during this particular week every year, the school would invite parents and guardians to come and enjoy a morning in our classrooms, to watch their children engage in a typical morning routine, see how they interact with each other and with me, and get a glimpse of what life is like in our little first grade classroom. My mother also came on this particular morning because she always delights in seeing my students and me in action.

As the visiting time was coming to a close, the children were excitedly shuffling about, and the parents were making their ways to the door to leave, I had one parent mention the following to my mother before she left. "Now that I've spent a morning in the classroom, it is so clear to me that my son completely imitates everything that Mrs. Rubinson does back at home. From her mannerisms to the way she says things, the vocabulary she uses to the songs she sings, he does it all. Now I know where he's picked it all up from!"

Imitation. We, as teachers, will be imitated by our students. For 9 months a year, 5 days a week, 7+ hours a day, our students will imitate us. And what they imitate will aide in developing them into who they will become.

You see, as educators, we are so. much. more. than just implementers of the state standards.

We do so much more than analyze data, group students for RtI purposes, and document our daily minutes spent in small group intervention.

We give so much more than tests, quizzes, grades, projects- we give ourselves. And the thing is, if these children are truly imitators of the people around them, our job does not simply call us to develop lessons, but our job calls us to develop children.

My favorite thing about being a teacher I can sum up in these few words: I love getting to develop children into who they are meant to be. And this means that I must, must, must be someone worthy of imitation.

(This cannot be achieved for my-particular-self apart from my Heavenly Father, and I've learned that the hard way.)

Mistakes will be made, and I've learned this year how to discuss them with my students instead of hide them. To learn from figures such as Thomas Edison: "I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." And they imitate that, too. They imitate how we not only as teachers, but as adults, respond to failure or mistakes, how we react to change, how we celebrate growth and progress, how we speak towards others (children and colleagues), how we process through a think-aloud, how we persevere through difficult tasks...the list goes on.

I wish that more educators would recognize this incredible opportunity to shape young lives forever. I wish that instead of students sitting in desks doing mounds of worksheets that they would be sitting at the feet of their teacher, stretching their minds and growing their character. I wish that instead of teachers watching the clock for lunch and dismissal, or anxiously counting down the days until summer break, that they would see time as precious and fleeting, and that we only have so much of it to spend with these little ones before they continue on their way, our classroom a mere stepping stone on their life journey. Because our children may learn to watch the clock or count down the days, too, because we do- and in that, they may grow to believe that neither school nor learning are experiences they want to be a part of. You see? Everything we do...

I hope that I never undervalue my role as a developer who is imitated by young children.

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