When I Teach, I Learn. . .

On Valentine’s Day I wrapped up a promised Christmas gift, one that my goddaughter requested. Since I had been a middle school teacher and because they were studying Southeast Asia, Miss Lain invited me to share about my trip to Cambodia in 2013.

I began cramming for my presentation by reviewing facts about Cambodia and designing a worksheet for students to fill in the blanks as I talked. To my surprise, I didn’t need to use PowerPoint but instead loaded the pictures into Google Photos where she could remotely access them.

Arriving at 7:45am, I reported to the office, signed in, and then waited in the classroom for her to return from a meeting with parents. That brought back my memories from the 1990’s of early morning meetings.

Most of the classes were well-behaved, but it was Valentine’s Day and a few teachers were handing out candy with Skittles, as always, the favorite. In contrast, Miss Lain’s surprise for her students was a 65-year-old, white-haired guest speaker.

Here’s what I learned or remembered from teaching 7 forty-seven-minute classes:

  • Thirteen-year-old student behavior hasn’t changed much since the 1990’s.
  • Approximately 5 students in each class were not born in the U.S.
  • Silence works well in regaining their attention.
  • They loved the photos and accompanying stories.
  • Today’s seventh graders ask good and sometimes difficult-to-answer questions.
  • Teachers must find ways to involve students to make a point, such as asking them to stand if they wore glasses and then explaining how they would have been arrested for that in Cambodia during the late 1970’s.
  • Six hours of constant talking and standing in front of teenagers is still exhausting!

God bless those of you who teach. Its rewards are priceless. In today’s mail, notes from each of Miss Lain’s classes thanked me for the presentation.

Gratitude is still alive and well in the hearts of our children even if it takes a special teacher to extract it! Perhaps that’s one of the more important things teachers teach.

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