The Lessons I Hope My Students Are Learning

This is a crazy time, no matter what you’re doing. I’m not a parent, but as a teacher, I empathize with one aspect of parenthood in this madness. I’m figuring out how to live my life in quarantine same as everybody else, but with the added wrinkle that there are children who are looking at me, expecting me to be an adult who can show them the way. In this time, my content and grades are less important than the life lessons I can, on my best days, share with them. With that thought in mind, here are a few of the lessons I (hope) I’m teaching them.

  1. Plans and schedules are made up, but they’re made up for a reason. We are using Zoom to teach classes, and so there is still a school schedule. Some of the kids don’t show up, and for some of them, that works fine. They are able to do the work on their schedule and they can use the notes and resources well enough on their own. Others don’t show up and find themselves lost for days at a time, scrambling to try and catch up. What’s the difference? Some of them can make their own schedules, they can prioritize tasks and hold themselves to it. Others haven’t learned that skill yet. To be clear, these aren’t skills it’s fair to ask them to have. They are 11-13 years old. This will, hopefully, be a teaching moment about the importance of schedules and plans.
  2. First things need to be first. This lesson is definitely related to the first, but prioritizing is key. Especially for the kids who have parents working essential services, there is nobody there to set the priorities for them. The good news for me on this one is that I can see the lesson taking hold. A lot of the kids who struggled to get their work done for the first couple weeks seem to be getting a better grasp on it now. It’s a lesson that will take time to learn, many of the adults(including yours truly) still struggle with this one.
  3. It’s okay to not know what to do. This is the most important lesson, I think, and one that we as adults can never emphasize enough to any of the kids in our lives. Life is a beautiful gift, something to be treasured at all times, but it’s also complicated, difficult, and often intensely confusing. I think we all feel the temptation to put on a brave face in front of the kids, and it is important to give them a point of stability, but it needs to be based in reality. We can’t pretend we have it all figured out, or that it’s easy. Instead, we need to acknowledge that we aren’t sure what’s going to happen, but that we know we can get through it.
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