Standing on the sidewalk with two little neighbors, I admired the phone one of them was proudly displaying. “Wow, you already have a phone,” I commented. “How old are you?”
“I’m eight,” she replied. “Yeah, I just told my dad I wanted a phone and I got one.”
The other eight year old looked on enviously. “I wish I’d had a dad like that,” I remonstrated with him. He looked at me and asked,”How old were you when you got YOUR phone?” LOL
When I told him I’d never had one, he questioned, “Didn’t you miss it?” I tried to explain what it was like to use a phone that you were attached to and couldn’t step more than a few feet away from. I’m sure he didn’t get the picture. I went on to say that we don’t miss what we don’t have when we don’t even know about it, because it hasn’t been invented! Blank stare.
But as I thought about it, I realized this is what we’re doing in education. We’re trying to educate for jobs that haven’t yet been thought of! We’re preparing kids for…….what? What can we do today that will serve them well tomorrow?
There are some elements of education that will always be relevant. Perhaps the “look” of the classroom will change as we explore new furniture and new arrangements, incorporate more technology, and explore innovative ways to present our curriculum, but the most basic ingredient of teaching remains the same – relationship. THIS is what kids are craving.
“Do you see me? Do you believe I’m worth anything? Do you believe I can make it in this world? Help me figure out what I can contribute. Tell me I matter.”
THIS is the gift a teacher is uniquely called to give. I have talked to many adults who are where they are because of a teacher who asked the right question, who told them they could succeed, who saw something in them that others did not. We don’t always know what our children’s lives are like outside the classroom. But we can create the environment and mood inside!
What do you want people to say about your classroom when they walk away? Last week I was in a school room for the second time. I said to the teacher, “I love visiting here because your value for relationship shows through in everything you do.” I could see it in the way he managed the class, in the words he used, in the way he taught, and in his expectations of the children. This does not happen by accident. It takes thought, reflection, trial and error, and time to establish the atmosphere you desire. The constant in education is our students’ desire for relationship. We are privileged, indeed.