The school year is coming to an end (in 4 days to be exact) and as I look back on this academic year my heart feels so full. I’m a huge believer that children have just as much to give and impart as anyone else. I swear that they are tiny little superheroes in disguise. I had the huge honor to serve and teach 12 amazing little 1st graders this year and oh what a ride.
These little ones have taught me so much in the past 9 months.
Life Lessons my 1st graders taught me
1. Always find a reason to laugh.
Life has its ups and downs and sometimes it is easier to focus on the negative going on around us then to find a reason to laugh. My students always found something to laugh at, no matter how small it was. One of my girls came in pretty down one day and the rest of my class was determined to make her laugh, someway somehow. They made silly faces, said funny jokes and even tried to tickle her but she wouldn’t budge. It took something very simple, a one word joke (“Booty”). That was all it took for her to burst out in laughter. I still don’t understand it to this day. But with them I learned to laugh more because laughter is just good for the soul.
Always look for the one thing that reminds you to laugh.
2. Team work makes the dream work
These kids taught me unity like never before. They weren’t only a class but a family. They held each other accountable and built each other up. One of my boys recently moved here from the Dominican Republic, he came to New York without knowing any English at all. Day after day my kids would sit down with him and read to him, speak to him in English and translate what I (or anyone else who was speaking) was saying. They refused to let him fall behind or not include him because of the language barrier, instead they pushed him, believed in him and helped him. I think that did more for him then I could have ever done as a tutor. It created a safe environment where he could make a mistake and not be ashamed of his learning process. These kids saw the goal and helped him work towards it and now he speaks English very well and is on his way to reading and writing it.
Remember whatever the goal, you need a community of people who will fight for you, push, encourage and keep you accountable.
3. Your level of influence is BIGGER then you believe it to be
Here’s what I would say is the most important lesson that first grade taught me. I knew going into the school year that I would obviously have influence over these little guys, but little did I know that I would influence the way they thought and even their day to day mannerisms. My class was as bubbly and unique as I am. I would catch them mimicking me and referring to phrases that I had used with them. They would speak to each other the way I would speak to them and even act out the way I would do things in their play time. One of my students was going through a family situation at home and was reminded to stop and pray with and for her family because she was looking at those times where we stopped and prayed in our classroom.
The influence you carry is bigger then what you are aware of and there are always people watching and mimicking your steps. Live a life worth mimicking.
Dear 1st Grade,
You are all my tiny little heroes. Thank you for allowing me to impact your life and for in turn impacting mine more then you’ll ever come to know. Thank you for the thousands of cards and letters saying that you loved and believed in me. Thank you for the laughs, unity and love. You are all AMAZING in your own little ways and I cant wait to hear all about how you grew up to be world changers. I believe in you with all my heart.
My favorite quotes from 1st grade:
Kids say the most interesting things and one of my favorite things to do is write down the things they say that stick out to me. Here are my top 4 this year;
- “Growing up is fun, you get to wear cute shoes” -Kaylee
- “When things get hard take a deep breath” -Camila
- “Ice cream cheers everyone up, when you’re sad Eat ice cream all day” -Diana
- “If I can be any ninja turtle, I’d be myself” -Sebastian A.