10 Things I’ve Learned through Education

September 2, 2021

Dear Families,

As I contemplated this week’s message, my mind jumped from topic to topic with no real focus. I contemplated numerous topics of importance. I created a list of potential ideas. The ideas ranged from restorative practice in discipline to the challenges of change, from the importance of embracing growth to the latest trends in education. After much processing, pacing, and panic, I decided to share the 10 most important lessons I’ve learned as I navigate the field of education.

  1. Judging a situation from the outside looking in creates a false sense of success. Have you ever witnessed a toddler meltdown in public? Have you ever observed a student in your child’s class struggle with attention? Did you pause today during carline after a student melted down and think, “Wow, that child has issues?” Have ever filled a Thursday folder, observed the score on a spelling test, and thought “Glad that’s not MY child.”? Have you ever listened to the stories from your child as they retell their day and thought, is anyone doing anything about THAT student? Have you ever stopped and imagined life through THAT family’s lens and reached out to support them? Have you ever contemplated the heartbreaking conversations that are taking place with teachers and administration? Have you ever reflected on the devastation they battle as they seek ways to help their child?
  2. Students need praise even if they earn an A. In my early years of teaching, I never praised my students for their grades. I never saw the need. If they earned an A, I believed the satisfaction of success should have been enough. Remember that your student needs praise for their efforts.
  3. Students need you to believe in them. Before Maddy was born, I functioned in delusion. I expected my students to achieve academic success with ease. I was, after all, providing a well-structured learning environment, and my lessons followed the 5 dynamics of teaching. Each one included demonstration, guided practice, and independent practice. They were textbook lessons. Then, Maddy blessed our lives. She was anything but a textbook student. I realized, as I watched her battles, how many students my lack of flexibility impacted. I realized over the nights of tears with Maddy, that I likely broke the hearts of many of my struggling students. It is gut-wrenching to ponder. After watching Maddy battle to succeed and be ignored by many teachers, I vowed that if I ever reentered the world of education again, I would always see the best in my students. They would know without question, they mattered. Believe in your child even when they fail a test or score “Approaching” on a standardized test. Believe in them even when they make embarrassing, disruptive, or harmful decisions. It is that belief that brings back their hope and their desire to try again.
  4. When a reaction doesn’t match the situation, you need to ask why. When your child battles emotional outbursts or behaves in a manner drastically different from their day-to-day, ask why. There is always a why. Seek to understand. Generally speaking, the why reveals some kind of fear, worry, or pain.
  5. At one point or another, your child will be THAT child. Don’t judge a parent from the outside looking in. You don’t know their story. You haven’t walked their journey.
  6. Learning to write a well-developed thesis demonstrates growth, but so do countless other averages, daily wins. Celebrate the growth observed in a completed planner or a week that homework was only forgotten 2 of 5 days.
  7. The student that battles being the “bully” more often than not navigates unthinkable pain, heartbreak, or abuse. Empower your child to speak into them as only a child can.
  8. Sometimes homework has to be ignored for a heart-to-heart talk. Yes. They might get a zero. Yes. Their grade might drop. That’s OK. It’s one night. Grades can be rebounded. But gaining insight into the heart and mind of your child is priceless.
  9. Expecting immediate success is unrealistic. I would actually argue it’s tragic. A butterfly has to struggle to emerge from the cocoon or it will die because it lacks the strength to fly. 
  10. You get the lowest level of behavior, you model. I learned this the hard way when Hunter was 2 years old. I forgot to leave my mom the car seat. Suffice it to say my son picked up on and used a certain vocabulary word frowned upon in most circles. When asked where he learned such a word, my son proudly proclaimed my guilt. Suffice it to say, my mother reminded me that day no child of hers would cause her grandchildren to stumble.

Our SkyView vision and mission are admirable to be sure. But what are we doing to put hands and feet to life-long learning and honorable leadership? Are we encouraging our students to sit with hurting? Or walk alongside the broken? Embracing the challenges of parenting? Seeking to support our children?

Honored to Serve You All,

Janet Worley