Sunday, February 3, 2013

Kids Are Kids

I am a lucky guy.  I get to combine two things that I love and call it my job.  Travel and education, two things that do not always go together, have become my life.

As I write this I am sitting in a bedroom in Honduras and thinking about this wonderful time I had working with the Macris School here in Tegucigalpa, the nation's capital.  Last week I worked with Honduran teachers on bringing new techniques and strategies into the classroom.  But I am also thinking back to the classrooms I have visited and students I have met in Japan, Czech Republic, Turkey, South Africa, and the hundreds of classrooms I've seen in the US.

If there is one thing that can be said about all of these experiences is that kids are kids.  No matter the nation, no matter the race, religion, or language, kids want to enjoy learning.  They smile when you do something funny, they get sad when they are in trouble, and they love you when you show them love.

Why is it then that I often hear teachers say "that would never work with my kids"?

When a teacher tells me this, what they are really saying is that new strategies and thinking outside the box would not work with them.  This is a limitation of the teacher, not the student.

I am not sure what the cure for this is, but one thing I have challenged myself to do this year is offer model lessons in schools I go into.  This way, teachers cannot say that that certain strategies won't work with their kids since they are watching me teach their kids.

I was so pleased when I taught my lessons in Honduras this week and teachers immediately saw strategies and methods that they could adapt to their classrooms.  They were open minded and excited to try out new things.

Our students do come from various backgrounds and situations, but that is what makes education exciting.  We should be mindful of where our students are coming from, and use this knowledge to help us connect to them.  Along the way though, challenges arise and sometimes we use these as excuses for not pushing ourselves in the classroom. 

Remember that kids are looking to us to guide them academically, socially, and behaviorally, so the energy and tone we set in the classroom is what we will get in return.

Here are a couple of photos from my wonderful trip to Honduras: 

The entire elementary school welcomed me with signs and hugs.
 Workshops with the Macris faculty and staff.
 Teaching a 4th grade writing lesson on persuasive essays.

Some of the Macris teachers posing for pictures.

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