This past year has been an amazing year in my running life. I’ve run over 17 ultra marathons and have set personal best times in several big races. Yes, I’ve put in the training miles and have my nutrition perfected – and I am passionate about running – but there is something even more important that has helped me achieve my goals this past year. It’s the people I run with and having a whole team of friends who believe in me. I was lucky enough to be welcomed into a close-knit group of runners last year who have been there for me in more ways than I can count – on the trail and off. They laugh with me, support me, run many long miles with me, and believe in me. I can’t help but see the connection between this and the students I work with every day.
I truly feel that my job as a teacher is to believe in every child – to believe they can learn and to expect wondrous things from them. I have to focus on what they CAN do, not what they can’t do (yet), and build upon that foundation. Kindergarten can be an overwhelming grade to teach. I look at my state standards (which are remarkably similar to those I had when I taught first grade several years ago…that bar just keeps being raised) and then I look at my students – this year over 7 of them JUST turned 5. They have only been on this planet for barely 5 years and we expect them to learn so much in the short year we have them. And they do. They learn to count to 100. They learn to read. They learn to make books that stay on topic. They learn about the monarch migration and how magnets work. They learn to solve problems, be independent, to tie their shoes and wash their hands after they go to the bathroom. They learn to use their words, be brave, be strong, put on their mittens, be kind and that they can make a difference in their world. We teach them all of these things, but we also believe in them. We believe they can do it. And they do.
And if we’ve done our job well, they will believe in themselves.
“I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway… let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.” – C. JoyBell C.