Whether you are a teacher, parent, relative, boss, or fellow community member, each of us has a chance to make a positive and impactful difference in a child’s life.
But in order to do this, we must carefully consider this question:
What do you think matters most to our children?
For 20 years I have been posing this question to my students. At the beginning of every school year, I would ask my students to give me advice on how to be their best teacher. I asked them to think about the times they felt most successful and to consider what the adults in their lives did to make this success possible.
The classroom would become immediately silent as the students wrote intensely for longer than they had ever written before. Smiles would appear on their faces as they reflected on the happy experiences they were remembering. After reading their responses I would add to my list all the ideas they mentioned.
Surprisingly, many of the responses were the same. Year after year, in every grade level, content area and classroom I was in, regardless of demographics or background, students were saying the same things and had the same message: It’s the small things you do that mean the most. That is what they remembered. That is what mattered.
Here is a list of the 12 Most Important things that came out of these amazing conversations.:
1. Greet me each day
Wish me good morning, and send me off with a “see ya tomorrow.”
When you look at me, let me see happiness in your eyes.
3. Give me your attention
Sit and talk with me privately; even if only for a second.
4. Imagine with me
Help me dream of things I might be able to do; not just the things I need to do now.
5. Give me challenging content and assignments
Show me how to handle it. Teach me what to do.
6. Ask about me
Inquire about my weekend, the game a played, the places I go. It shows you care about my life.
7. Let me have time
Time to let things sink in. Time to think. Time to reflect, process, and play.
8. Demand of me
Hold me accountable to high standards. Don’t let me get away with what you know I am capable of doing better.
9. Notice Me
Leave special messages in my desk or locker. Just a quick not that says you notice something right.
10. Let me ask the questions
Even if they are off topic. It will show that I am thinking about new perspectives, curious, and willing to learn more. Let me have the chance to show what I am wondering about, not just what I know.
11. Engage me
I came to you in love with learning, keep me excited, keep me wanting more.
12. Trust me
Believe that I can do it. Allow me the chance. I promise to show you I can.
Angela Maiers is an award-winning educator, speaker, consultant and professional trainer known for her work in literacy, leadership and global communications. She is a consistently energized and recognized worldwide speaker greatly impacting leadership through not only the education field, but the international business community as well. Challenging educational philosophies and business ethics, Angela strives to achieve total synergy and unstoppable energy by reconstructing the thought process of many dated ideologies.
I just found your post thanks to Michelle (http://literacyzone.blogspot.com/2012/02/sols-learning-and-sharing.html) and I love your ideas! Such a powerful description of what matters to kids. I'm going to print out your 12 things and put them on my desk at school. Plus, I love your idea of asking kids what helps them be successful! I think I'll do that with my students at the beginning of next year!
Oh, Angela, what a true vow of "teacher commitment" that I wish we all took every day we began our days in our classrooms! At the end of my days I always asked myself one single question: "what will [Angela] remember about today? Would our children be able to answer this question with the "twelve list?" I sure hope they did! Thank you for inspiring!
Great list! I can count on one hand the amount of teachers in my life that saw their roles as anything more than a job, but hose few teachers that did go out of their way to be an encouragement to me still inspire me today.
@deleted_91832_Sean McGinnis I suspected that! The people that I work and learn from at work and on the web, do this for me everyday! They are universal needs for anyone big or small! Thanks for that perspective.
@douglaserice Doug, that makes me so sad, and this is exactly the message I wanted to come forth in the post. We remember forever the teachers that cared about us, and noticed the amazing regardless of the content they taught. Thank you for reminding us that the impact is long lasting.