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Lessons Learned

Michelangelo said "Ancora Imparo" when he was 87.  I am not quite that old and not nearly as fantastic as he, but I have always like this quote.  Most teachers do.  But in spite of the fact that I am still learning and hope to remain so for the rest of my life, there are some things that I have learned in my years as a teacher.  Things I didn't expect, but once I understood, enhanced my practice and made me a happier teacher.

I am not the expert.  Sure, I know a lot, but there are deep chasms of things that I don't know.  I love being able to say to my students, "Great question!  I don't know the answer, but let's find out, shall we?"  It is both freeing for me and empowering for them.  Phew.

Student input matters.  Students spend all day in our classrooms.  We ask a great deal of them and, yet, it wasn't until very recently that educators figured out the key to buy-in is voice.  My students do their very best work when I ask for their input.  What is a good homework assignment?  How should we evaluate this piece?  What questions have we not answered?  Their responses are incredible, but we only hear them if we ask.

Paper is expensive.  Go digital.  People lose papers.  Dogs sometimes do eat homework.  Technology is engaging for students, easy to use and better for managing work.  Paper and pencil lend themselves to some tasks, but most others can be performed digitally.  

Students respond to the way you treat them.  If you yell at them, they yell back.  If you baby them, they become incompetent.  If you treat them with respect and allow them to show maturity, they will rise to the occasion.  Always.

Have fun.  Be silly.  Sing dumb songs.  Play games.  Let students laugh.  You feel better.  They feel better.  And everyone learns a great deal more.