The Most Important Lessons in School

The Dalai Lama (Photo from Pixabay)

One of the first pieces of advice I offer new teachers is never to lose focus on the universal lessons they want their students to learn. The primary role of educators is to teach academics, but that shouldn’t be a teacher’s sole concern. While gaining the ability to read, write, do math, and learn to be a critical thinker are crucial to students, equally important are the non-academic lessons.

If any educator is going to connect with their students, children must know that their teacher cares about them as people. How do we do that? By simply being human. I recommend pushing that math lesson aside for a few minutes when a student is hurting emotionally. Let them talk, cry, give them a pat on the back, high five, fist bump, or yes, even a hug when needed. Making time for students is worth it in the long run. As educator Rita Pearson says, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

A happy classroom (Photo from Pixabay)

Something that can seem minor to us at the time can be enormous to a child. I used to treasure visits from past students when they’d return to school years later. Besides always laughing at the chairs and wondering how they ever managed to sit in such tiny seats, they’d often share memories of being in my class. Many of these things I remembered, but some I did not. I once got a letter from a high school student who wrote about a time when she felt lonely and left out, and I made the time to find her a playground pal. She remembered what I saw as a minor act of kindness even though seven years had passed.

I’d like to see schools focus more on character education in the classroom. Character education is “the teaching of values or virtues that we use every day to make decisions.” Many of our students are taught skills like kindness, empathy, generosity, honesty, compassion, and perseverance in their homes, but these are foreign concepts for some. Can children learn these values in school? Absolutely! If you haven’t seen this clip from Steve Hartman’s “On the Road” series, please watch. It’s heartwarming and touching. Teachers like Derek Brown get it—kids do best when they feel accepted, loved, and part of a team.

The best way to promote character education in a classroom is for the teacher to demonstrate these qualities. Talking about these things is not enough; good teachers must lead by example. Kids constantly learn from parents and teachers, even when we’re not teaching designated lessons. What teacher hasn’t had the experience of technology failing at the most critical time? How do we handle that? Do we get angry, frustrated, and curt with others, or do we problem-solve, show perseverance, and remain cool?    

Photo from Pixabay

Take the time to point out examples of good character choices when students make them. For example, let’s say a student shared they were sad about an ailing pet, and a friend cheered them up by playing with them and making them laugh. What a perfect opportunity to reinforce empathy by sharing this story with your class! Not only will most children enjoy the public praise, but the other students will learn that we value this attribute.

Photo from Pixabay

I taught elementary school-age children (grades 2-6). I started a group called The Friendship Club in my classes. When children saw other kids doing random acts of kindness, I encouraged them to grab a designated note and write about it. After they’d cleaned up at the end of the day, I often shared these anecdotes. Now, two people felt great—the subject of the note and the writer. Each time I shared these notes in class, the result was the same. More children would share because they witnessed the impact. The pay-it-forward model of kindness works.

You can imagine the power of this note: “I was feeling sad at recess because I had no one to play with. Then, Julie saw me alone and invited me to play four-square.” I couldn’t design a better lesson on inclusiveness.

Literature is one of my favorite ways to reinforce universal values. A simple Google search under “books about honesty” or any other specific quality will point us in the right direction to support that attribute.

Role-playing, especially for older upper elementary kids, is an idea I embrace. Asking kids to make up and perform skits regarding compassion or other character education qualities is a successful technique. Even many shy kids will take part in such a scenario.

Reading, writing, math, social studies, science, art, physical education, and music are all essential subjects in school, but let’s make time for character education too.

Photo from Pixabay

128 thoughts on “The Most Important Lessons in School

  1. The teachers I most connected with in school–the ones I still remember fondly to this day—are those who went beyond teaching me a particular subject, and who showed an interest in me as an individual. That makes a huge difference to a kid.
    Wonderful post, Pete!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 14, 2022 — 7:02 pm

      Absolutely! I can remember many of my teachers clearly, and then there are years when I have little memory. You can’t fool children over time. They know the ones who care and those for whom teaching is just a job.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The values I saw sorely lacking in some of the adults I taught were honesty and integrity. Higher education has a terrible plagiarism and academic dishonesty problem, which has gotten worse by the year. I couldn’t help but wonder at times if some of these students lacked faith in their own ideas and experiences and their ability to communicate them (apart from those who “just needed the piece of paper.”)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 14, 2022 — 7:06 pm

      I find it interesting that plagiarism has been on the rise. I wonder what accounts for that trend. Do you think it’s because students can more easily get their hands on someone else’s work or a decline in morals?

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      1. I think it’s a combination of two things: the Internet and people’s resentment at being unable to advance in their careers without a college degree. I do think a decline in morals plays into it, though, particuarly since Trump.

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      2. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 7:59 am

        I’m glad I asked. My impression (perhaps ignorance) was that a college degree might not be as crucial as it used to be.

        I think the place I see the most evidence of a moral decline in our country is how people (especially online but even in public places) converse. It’s like they can’t be civil to anyone with a differing opinion. When people in politics, celebrities, and other influential people set that standard, the bar gets lowered.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Part of what’s happened in the last forty years is degree inflation, probably related to grade inflation.

        Since the pandemic, the pendulum has slowly started to swing the other way, with industry-based microcredentionals, particularly in the IT field.

        I saw a marked increase in the lack of civility in the online classroom starting in the Trump years (not in my classes, thankfully). Many, many hours of administration’s time wasted in agonized, handwringing discussion of taking the disciplinary action called for in their own policies. Ugh. I am so glad I’m out of that world.

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      4. I remember the case of Freed Zaharia, a CNN correspondent and editor of Time magazines. I enjoyed his writing and thoughtful discussions. Imagine my surprise when he was accursed of plagiarizing a part of one of his columns. When I was looking up the details to respond to your comment, I found this article that identified 5 Famous Plagiarists: Where are they now? – which I think that you will enjoy.

        https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2012/08/21/5-famous-plagiarists-where-are-they-now/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PlagiarismToday+%28Plagiarism+Today%29&amp

        Somewhere along the way, we face decision points. Your thought Liz: “I couldn’t help but wonder at times if some of these students lacked faith in their own ideas and experiences…..”. I agree wholeheartedly. Very well said.

        Pete – this is an excellent post and follow-up discussion.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. Thank you, Rebecca. My final thought is that if some of these students had had Jennie Fitzkee and Pete Springer as their teachers early in life, they would have no desire to plagiarize. They would be excited to share their own thoughts and insights and eager for responses from their instructors and their peers.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. I agree, Liz!! You are spot on!

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      7. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 3:52 pm

        Jennie is a rock star to me. We would have liked to teach together because our philosophies are so similar. Meeting Jennie and her husband in person earlier this year was one of the highlights of my year.

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      8. Meeting Jennie must have been quite a thrill!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 3:40 pm

        Whoa! I didn’t know this about Freed Zaharia. Taking credit for someone else’s work changes my opinion of someone’s character, though all of us are imperfect. Becoming famous for plagiarism should be a prime example of someone becoming infamous.

        I still remember the name Rosie Ruiz for slipping into the Boston Marathon in the late stages and pretending she won. Eight days later, they stripped her of this title. It’s surmised that she only ran the last half-mile of the 26+ mile race.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I remember the Rosie Ruiz episode very well.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Thank you an excellent question, Pete.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. So true and so well said. Kindness transcends many boundaries, and the friendship club sounds like a beautiful way to acquire great life skills.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 14, 2022 — 7:12 pm

      Homeschooling is a good option for some kids, but what those children may miss out on is learning to work with their peers.

      I used to be in a Kindness Facebook group (since disbanded) where we were tasked with a kindness challenge each month. Cool idea!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. so very, very right

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    1. petespringerauthor November 14, 2022 — 7:12 pm

      Thanks for reading, Beth.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Kindness helps most problems get on the road to solutions. Well done, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 14, 2022 — 7:15 pm

      I’m an optimistic person who thinks there is far more goodness in the world than not, but the country and the world could use a little more kindness right now.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” – I wish more teachers would understand this. I had some nightmarish teachers in school and those were the only subjects in which I didn’t thrive.

    The Friendship Club is such a nice idea to encourage spreading kindness and empathy. I think this is something that can also be implemented in an office team.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 14, 2022 — 7:32 pm

      It’s hard to understand why people who don’t like children become teachers. Do people who don’t like flying become pilots? It should be a dealbreaker.

      Another one of my favorite Rita Pearson quotes is, “Will you like all your children? Of course not. And you know your toughest kids are never absent… The tough ones show up for a reason—for a relationship.”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post. I agree with teachers teaching by setting good examples. I also think it would be difficult to always have to be conscious of what you are saying and doing all the time because you are always being observed by students. It takes a special person to be able to do that all day. They are the great teachers. I, on the other hand, would be the one having a meltdown when the technology didn’t work, which is one of the reasons I am not a teacher.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 14, 2022 — 7:44 pm

      I have one legendary memory of being observed by a principal when the computer froze, and my entire lesson was contingent on the device working. Teachers were also known to swear at inanimate objects🤣 (not in front of the kids), such as copying machines when they continually jammed.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Such important points, Pete.
    My focus as an early year’s educator is the prime areas of character development, Personal and social, communication, physical development, etc., before the academics, but sometimes as the children get older, that side is forgotten by teachers. It’s important to continue to develop these children in all areas, the whole time they are with us 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 14, 2022 — 10:24 pm

      I suspect that you work with similar-age kids that my wife worked with. She was a preschool teacher and then director. I believe character education should always be a part of the curriculum, regardless of age. In the United States, many high schools require students to participate in community service projects.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, they are 3-5 in my department, Pete.
        I agree with you about the community service. Kids here seem to have lost respect for the world and others here. A little meaningful giving back would be good!

        Liked by 2 people

  9. You have a great idea here Pete. I can’t see your idea passing muster with those on the far right.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 14, 2022 — 10:29 pm

      I don’t consider this a political issue, but I’ve been surprised before how things get twisted. It would seem odd that someone would object to values such as honesty, kindness, and responsibility.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Great post, Pete! It appears there are many good ways of passing these traits to our students. It is sad that we must rely on teachers to teach what should be learned at home. But for some, school is the only place for good examples. Well written, my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 8:32 am

      I was a naive kid who lived a sheltered life growing up. It wasn’t until high school, when we moved to California, that I realized not everyone was Ward and June Cleaver.

      Probably the unlikeliest thing I taught in school for a couple of years was sex education (Boy, did they choose the wrong candidate!) 🤣 Men were in short supply to teach 5th and 6th-grade boys, and I succumbed to the pressure. Maybe someday I’ll share that hilarity here.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That sounds like an entertaining story, my friend. I hope you share it someday.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Another wise and wonderful post, Pete. When I think back all those years to my schooldays I recognise the view that we learn best from people we like. I hated some of our teachers and never felt value in what they were doing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 8:42 am

      I had teachers who clearly didn’t enjoy what they were doing to the point it affected their job performance. How can we like and learn from someone who doesn’t seem to want to be there? I had my share of bad days (I think all teachers do), but I always loved kids. That should be a prerequisite for those working with children.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I completely agree with you. My primary school teachers were all lovely, though the Head could be a bit fierce, but we had a real mixture at Grammar School. Several of them seemed to think their pupils were some kind of enemy!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 10:04 am

        What an unfortunate attitude for anyone in the school to view students as “the enemy.” I consider my students to be like my second family. I am still 100% invested and hope they live happy and successful lives. I’m not such an egotist that I think some child is only successful because of me. Our school had a very family-like atmosphere at the time (not sure if that still exists), with a team of excellent teachers who I firmly believe made a difference.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. They certainly gave us that impression. The learning environment was better with some teachers than others. Your school had the right ethos. Ours was over 700 pupils and I don’t think they did everything well for that many. But don’t get me wrong: I was happy there, as were we all. We just took the good with the less good.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Wonderful post Pete. So true. Kindness and friendship are extremely important.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 8:44 am

      The ability to work with and get along with others are traits that some people never master.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. You hit the nail right on the head Pete! Wonderful post and yes, definitely the most important lesson!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 8:46 am

      How students feel about their teacher is everything. I’ve seen it many times (not just in my classroom). People are happier when they feel welcome and a part of things. That’s why I’ve never understood those managers who choose to rule with an iron fist. Who wants a boss like that?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly!! I have had both and I can tell you which one I did my best work for!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I wish you had been my teacher. I’m pretty old now, but I remember the best teachers from even 50 years ago. The hardest thing I had to deal with was being told I was not allowed to hug my medical students. But I got around it – they hugged me first!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 8:53 am

      I love learning that your medical students hugged you. Hugging is one of those things that I continued to do (usually side hugs, always in public, and only student-initiated.) Yet, how can anyone in good conscience not hug an elementary student who is sad because they’re worried about an ailing relative? etc…

      Liked by 2 people

  15. What a lovely post! Wouldn’t the world be different if all teachers embraced this philosophy!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 8:56 am

      It’s Human Interaction 101. When someone is kind to us, we’re more prone to pass that feeling on to someone else. There are so many valuable lessons (humility comes to mind) that teachers can teach that have nothing to do with academics.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Reading anecdotes of Acts of Kindness written by students at the end of the school day is such a heartwarming feel-good activity to share with classmates. Hopefully, more teachers will see its value. It does not surprise me that this was something you implemented in your classrooms, Pete, because you absolutely reek of kindness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 10:09 am

      Some of the simplest ideas can be the most effective. It caught on like wildfire when I made the time to share them. The old sticks and stones rhyme is a bunch of nonsense—words matter.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hmmm… “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” Not sure that’s how it was for me. I learned oodles from teachers I disliked. And I mean that beyond acknowledging that I didn’t like them. In some ways I felt challenged to show them I was a great student despite their behavior. Of course, I’m old and I don’t remember any teacher worrying about if I was having fun. 🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 10:19 am

      There’s a lot of truth in your statement, Ally. We can learn what we don’t want to be like from watching someone. I worked for some great bosses, but I’ve also had a few duds or ones that were just plain terrible. I had to keep my mouth shut, but inside I’d think, “You have no idea what you’re doing.”

      I also get the “I’m going to prove you wrong” thought process. I can think of a few times in my life when that was my attitude. We all find different ways to motivate ourselves, and that’s a regular human response.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. D.L. Finn, Author November 15, 2022 — 9:30 am

    Great post, Pete. I do remember the teachers that went beyond the subject and cared about us as well. I learned so much from those teachers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 10:23 am

      In the end, we all just want to feel accepted. I blogged recently about attending one of my former student’s weddings. The first thing I remember about her has nothing to do with academics. It’s that she was that kid in the class who always looked out for those who felt left out and didn’t have anyone to play with.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. This is so true. Thank heaven there are teachers like you out there!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 10:25 am

      I think a ton of them are out there, doing amazing things daily, flying under the radar that most of us don’t know about.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m sure you are right.

        Liked by 2 people

  20. Such a good reminder, Pete. There is a balance. One doesn’t work without the other.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 10:54 am

      Balance—something that often is not found in schools. Like me, I’ll bet you’ve seen the same things I have, where the educational pendulum swings back and forth in many approaches. Don’t get me wrong—change can be good. The flip side is sometimes we don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. I LOVE this idea of character education! I find financial literacy (I could go on forever about this) and character education (not that you bring it up) so crucial for the foundations of a young person’s life. I teach Charlotte as much as I can in the home but often times, it takes a situation/an experience to help point out the characteristics one should strive for (empathy, compassion, fairness, kindness, etc) and it’s hard to do that if there are few situations at home to draw examples from (especially in a one-child household). And so true (!), children only want to learn from those they like! Never thought about it that way!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 2:42 pm

      Your comment about finances and ethics brought back another school memory. I recall the school once got a letter from an anonymous parent admitting that she had taken $3.00 from her teacher’s desk at the same school years before. She said she was trying to teach her daughter (now attending the same school) a lesson about taking responsibility, even if it was many years later. She included an apology and a $5 bill. I never found out who it was, but it was a great lesson to teach her daughter.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Funny thing: when one of my kids was struggling in school, I realized it was because he had to (HAD TO) believe the teacher loved him. I shared it with the resource team and administration as a pro-tip, which seems funny at how simple and basic of a life lesson it is!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 2:51 pm

      You mean “had to” in his mind, right? I’m assuming it wasn’t the teacher or you insisting your kid love his teacher.

      I’m flashing back to a couple of parent conferences where the parents told me, “Please tell him what you want. He’ll listen to you.” The implication was that the boy didn’t listen to his parents.

      I can think of plenty of teachers I “tolerated” rather than “loved.” I’m sure some children would say the same about me. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely in his head, yes.

        And my kids really do respect outside teachers more than me on issues of learning. I’m too anxious or something.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 3:43 pm

        I think nearly every parent has experienced this. I remember giving my mom a fair amount of grief as a teen. She was just about the sweetest person in the world.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Interesting that Rosie Ruiz became more famous for cheating than the fame attained by many actual winners of the Boston Marathon over the years (whose names I do not remember).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 7:15 pm

      Rosie is the definition of infamous. What other sports figures are famous for inglorious actions? Too many to count. The first ones that pop into my head in no particular order are 1. Mike Tyson (biting part of Evander Holyfield’s ear off.) 2. Ray Rice (football player who leveled his wife/girlfriend with a punch in the elevator.) 3. Lance Armstrong (stripped of his cycling titles because of doping.) 4. Multiple baseball stars for steroid use (Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, A Rodriguez, etc…) 5. Pete Rose (gambling on baseball.) 6. O.J. Simpson (murder)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Discouraging that that you can come up with such a list so easily. At least the athletes you named had both fame and infamy. Rosie Ruiz was only infamous.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. “Kids don’t learn from teachers they don’t like.”

    That makes so much sense. In fact, I can’t credit my knowledge to any one particular teacher, but the ones that remain in my mind are those who’ve used a personal touch. I remember one teacher seeking me out when she was transferred from my primary school to my secondary one. She just came to say hi, and to say she remembered me from primary. I think that’s why I still remember her today. Too bad we’ve lost touch though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 10:46 pm

      Little gestures like that mean a lot to kids. I tried to attend one extracurricular event (if invited) for each student in my class during the year. They treat their teachers like celebrities when they see them away from school.😊 It was one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways for me to show them I cared.

      Like

  25. Teachers play a fundamental part in our lives. We may not remember what they taught us (hand up if this is you, lol) but we do remember their kindnesses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2022 — 10:50 pm

      One of my favorite quotes that sum up your sentiments is by Maya Angelou. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That was also my philosophy, though I didn’t say it as eloquently as she did.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. It is funny what sticks with your from your school years. After almost 50 years, I still remember the kindness of a teacher who knew that I had lost my dog that previous night (hit by a car) and allowed both myself and my best friend to leave the classroom and go sit quietly somewhere to talk. I understood why she would give me that time, but I was amazed that she let my friend join me so I wouldn’t be alone. Also, I really like your ideas on how to teach character. Sowing the seeds of inclusion and helping others and leading by example can be carried over for a lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 16, 2022 — 8:45 am

      Kudos to your teacher for assessing the situation correctly, and knowing what you needed at that moment was far more important than any academic lesson. The fact that you remember all these years later should remind us all that acting human should always take precedence.

      Unfortunately, I had this exact situation happen a few times where students were sad after losing a pet. One time, in particular, stands out in my mind. A child came in before school and poured his heart out about his loss. I said how sorry I was and hugged him. He asked if he could “tell the class about it.” That was a tough choice because how it might play out was unpredictable. He shared his loss, and several kids in the class came up spontaneously and hugged him. It was incredibly touching. In retrospect, I should have ended it there. Another child raised his hand and began sharing about when his animal passed. It was like a therapy session, but predictably others got sad, and one girl started to cry, saying, “I don’t want total about this.” These are the tough, on-the-spot decisions teachers make all the time, and sometimes don’t get right.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear what you’re saying Pete, but I think you helped the person who needed it the most that day and that’s a win for your decision. Hopefully, the young girl didn’t even dwell on the topic and quickly moved on.

        Liked by 1 person

  27. What a lovely post, Pete. I remember the kindness of my primary school teachers and the mixed bag at senior school. I was living in Africa during my teenage years and the focus was on results and strict discipline. The two teachers I remember, treated us kindly and as individuals and I have never forgotten them. The discussions in your comments are fascinating. I too wonder if we need a return to apprenticeships instead of all being pushed to get degrees. Much ❤ to you both. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 16, 2022 — 9:05 am

      Your “focus on results” comment struck a nerve. It’s appropriate to measure whether the programs a school utilizes are working. My main gripe is the overemphasis on test scores at the expense of everything else. It used to drive me nuts for a couple of reasons. 1. Are kids with more pressing problems (hunger, shelter, dysfunctional family situations) supposed to care about test scores when their families are in survival mode? It makes me want to pull out what little hair I have left. 2. Some conclusions from testing data also come into question. Sometimes teachers get classes with many high-achieving academic kids, and sometimes they don’t. Then, when the scores predictably went one way or the other, assumptions were made about a program’s success.

      Sorry about the rant, Jane. I’m always going to prioritize my students’ needs over anything else.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear you, Pete and feel there is far too much reliance on stats and results. There has to be some measuring stick, but relying on figures alone is like listening to one instrument in a whole orchestra. I remember being crushed when I was dropped down two class streams (overall) and permanently, when I fluffed a maths test. There were three streams per group, A, B and C. I stood in as a teaching assistant for a term at my daughter’s primary school and I was in the Reception class. A little lad had attention difficulties and one day he managed to complete a whoel assignment, sitting with his classmates at a table. It was a huge achivement for him, yet this got lost in his overall marks. Why was it considered appropropriate to mark a four year old anyway? I could rant alongside you on how we measure things, especially with our youngsters. People first and students are people and individuals. You instinctively see that and I suspect, always have, Pete.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor November 17, 2022 — 7:14 am

        Love the “listening to one instrument in an orchestra” analogy. Great line! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  28. Hi Pete, another lovely post. I like your ideas on encouraging kindness and recognition of kind acts among school children. I don’t recall anything like this when I was at school. The teachers I remember the best are the ones that gave me good books to read, either fiction or history books. I can remember the names of those teachers after all these years and sometimes I wonder what has happened to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 16, 2022 — 10:29 am

      The interest in character education began in our schools a couple of decades ago. I think there is a need for it, and I like that we’re trying to address what I see as a need.

      Teachers can inspire and motivate in many ways. Those ones that further promoted your interests by suggesting books and resources were doing what teachers should. Get children excited about learning and suggest ways to further their interests.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Pete, I was lucky with those teachers, they really expanded my reading choices.

        Liked by 1 person

  29. Great blog, Peter!
    So much good advice and wisdom for teachers, especially new ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 16, 2022 — 10:32 am

      Thanks, Ann. As we both know, new teachers get tossed into the fire without much experience. That’s why I love programs that involve mentor teachers for inexperienced teachers. I’m sure some can use support but think they’ll look weak if they ask for it.

      Like

  30. In a week when I have been feeling very negative about human nature, your blog has raised my optimism again.

    Thank-you Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 16, 2022 — 6:27 pm

      Glad to hear it, Paul. It is easy to think negatively, especially when there’s a lot of negativity and hate in the world. Admittedly, I’m a pretty optimistic person, but today’s young people give me hope for our future.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Great strategies for inside and outside of the classroom and the the socialising lessons children learn will make the good parents when they get older as well as helping them in their careers. Your children were very lucky to have you Pete and I still remember my first teacher when I was four, Mrs Miller… she was lovely and clearly made an impression as still thought of at times 66 years later. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 16, 2022 — 6:29 pm

      I love hearing about teachers that stand out in people’s minds decades later. My 5th-grade teacher, Mrs. Sjostrom, was one of those people. I did not want to disappoint her and hope I made her proud.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Post by post, you are accruing a lot of wisdom here, both from your own “case studies” and research along with readers’ comments. I agree with Pearson’s observation that “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” At the college, one of the professors ended up with 3-4 students in her classes by the end of the semester. Did she terrorize them? Not help them get passing grades? I’d consider myself a failure if success wasn’t my motto.

    You taught with heart and mind. How fortunate were the kids who had you. Now to check out the video. Excellent photos, by the way. Thanks, Pete! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 17, 2022 — 7:24 am

      The “On the Road” series with Steve Hartman is excellent. He comes across as genuine, and some of the more moving stories bring on tears.

      It’s always interesting to gain your perspective as a college professor to see how it compares to that of an elementary teacher. My conclusion, as simple as it may be, is good teaching matters.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve taught all grades, including elementary reading. Bottom line: All students respond to kindness and dedication.

        Liked by 1 person

  33. A beautiful post, Pete, and I couldn’t agree more that we need to teach kids the social skills that will lead to a successful and happy life. Your Friendship Club sounds like it was wonderful, and I can imagine how well it worked for all. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 17, 2022 — 9:46 am

      What is planned for a typical school day seldom pans out because some unexpected crisis occurs. It’s a little bit like Whack-a-Mole. 🤣 Yet, through it all, good teachers try to take any of these moments to teach valuable life lessons. Rolling with the punches is part of the deal, so it’s necessary to be flexible.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. I suspect you were a great teacher, Pete. I’m always so surprised when a former student tells me about something impactful I did when I was teaching. Thanks for an inspirational post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 17, 2022 — 3:32 pm

      Of course, there are students with who we feel an instant connection. The strange thing is sometimes we impact others when we don’t know it. I’m sure you can relate.

      Perhaps we’ve already discussed this, and maybe I’ve forgotten, but what level did you teach at? It makes sense that it was MG since I know that’s what you blog about. (Thirty-one years in grades 2-6 for me.) I started in grades 5-6 and worked my way down over time. I discovered that 2nd grade was too young for me, and I taught the last several years in 3rd grade.

      Like

      1. I taught high school English — grades nine through twelve.

        Liked by 1 person

  35. I think you should send this in as an op-ed for newspapers (maybe US Today, so widely read) as well as Time magazine, etc. Your “lesson” here is so RIGHT ON and so so necessary. Beautifully written, Pete. And so many students do not see their teachers as “people.” Why are teachers afraid to show their human side? When I was in 7th grade, I adored my 7th grade science teacher. I figured when I got out of college, maybe we could marry. Otherwise, we’d just be good friends, because he really “got me.” But one day he apologized for yawning “my wife gave birth two weeks ago, and we’re both up with the baby every night,” he said. WHAT? He was MARRIED? Gave me a whole different perspective of him, but a good one, for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 17, 2022 — 3:42 pm

      Haha! Great story, Pam! That no-good two-timer. 🤣

      Every teacher has to find a style that works for them. Mine was to be open with them because those were the teachers I felt connected to. Human connection is the essence of any relationship. If I were sad because my dog was on his last legs, I told them. Empathy is such a wonderful attribute.

      Showing our human side makes it easier for others to do the same. Why should it be different with kids? Not surprisingly, that’s why I’m drawn to blogs like yours and books like Flashes of Light.

      Thanks for the compliment about the post. USA Today never crossed my mind, but what the heck? It doesn’t hurt to try.

      Liked by 1 person

  36. Sharing! ❤ The Friendship Club and On the Road help keep us all focused on what's really important in the classroom and beyond. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 17, 2022 — 4:10 pm

      I know you get it as a retired educator, Bette. Kids need to feel safe and loved first. The academic part is equally important, but you can’t have one without the other.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. What a terrific post, Pete. This is Teacher-101, what matters most. You have to connect with kids before you can teach. Sometimes connecting is as simple as a smile to a student. It makes all the difference in the world. Children need role models, and when that role model is their teacher- someone they can hug- it is grounding and life changing. I applaud teachers like you and Steve Hartman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 18, 2022 — 7:25 pm

      It sounds ridiculous that departments of education and all those who teach may sometimes forget that it still comes back to the kids. Test scores don’t tell us what our own eyes and instincts tell us. The academic part of school happens because of how children feel about their school, teacher, and classmates. It’s human nature to want to belong and feel loved.

      Wasn’t it precious when the children’s eyes lit up when Steve walked into their classroom and when the child told Steve his career was a success?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It really is ridiculous. Children are flowers, and the stronger the roots (love, connecting, etc.) the stronger the flower. The ‘powers that be’ understand the physical aspect, that children who are hungry or homeless cannot learn. They don’t understand that the emotional piece is just as important. Yes, Steve’s video when he walks into their classroom- precious!

        Liked by 1 person

  38. Reblogged this on A Teacher's Reflections and commented:
    There is nothing more important for a teacher than connecting with a child. Learning happens when children feel safe and loved. Therefore, there is nothing more important for a child than connecting with a teacher. Pete Springer says it beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 18, 2022 — 7:28 pm

      Thanks for the reblog, my friend. Before I walked into your classroom earlier this year, I knew that you would have this kind of relationship with your students. Kids know the real deal when they see it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure! I was practically jumping up and down when I read your post. Interestingly, I have a post started, “My Lightbulb Moment” which takes me to when I ‘got it’, and the foundation for all you write about and lived with children. I’m so glad you came to my classroom! Remember when the children were all over you (it’s my favorite photo)? Yes, they know the real deal when they see it! Best to you, my friend.

        Like

  39. It is so important for children to connect with others as you have said, Pete, I think your friendship club sums up who you are as a teacher and a person…I hope you have a great weekend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 19, 2022 — 8:03 am

      It’s such a no-brainer to me. Why wouldn’t we want to be friendly, in general? I gravitate toward positive and uplifting people, and I suspect most others do the same.

      Though I haven’t read you comment on it recently, please know that I hope things are going well healthwise for your daughters. (No need to respond here publicly. I just know that must be a tough burden to be carrying around.)

      Liked by 1 person

  40. Thank​ you, Pete.. I really appreciate your kind words x

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Bravo, Pete. This is a great post. I totally agree with you about character education and its importance. The Rita Pierson quote is one to remember. Her video Every Kid Needs a Champion is one of my favourites. Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch the video you shared. Would you mind providing me a link so I can see if I can watch it that way, please? It does tell me it’s not available in my area so even that might not work.
    Friendship skills, and character development, were always important in my classroom. In fact, I have developed many resources and written numerous posts about developing friendship skills. If we all just implemented them, what a beautiful world (of humans) it would be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 20, 2022 — 6:23 am

      Ah, shoot. I’d really like you to see the video, but I understand this is how these things sometimes work. I will send the link to the show and see if you can view it that way rather than through YouTube. At present, it’s the third one from the top.https://www.cbsnews.com/evening-news/on-the-road/

      Incidentally, I just connected with Derek Brown, the teacher in the video, and joined his Facebook group, Kindness 101. He seems like a great guy. Here’s the link for that too. https://www.facebook.com/groups/kindness101.

      Thanks for checking in, Norah. Always great to chat with you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks so much for the links, Pete. I watched the video and joined the group. I’m not sure if they’ll let me in, but I hope so. 🙂
        Steve Hartman seems to be doing pretty good work, sharing stories of kindness that are on-shared by teachers in the classroom. That’s quite a movement. Powerful!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor November 21, 2022 — 8:15 am

        I’m pleased you were able to see the video, Norah. I’m excited to see how many schools are involved in promoting kindness. I think these snippets of goodness are a great way to teach children. The scene of the girl dabbing at her eyes as she watches the video says it all.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree, Pete. It’s an awesome project. I’m hopeful of the effect that it will have on children’s lives. I agree about the girl too. Very touching.

        Liked by 1 person

  42. “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” I can certainly confirm that this kid didn’t. This is a great post, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 20, 2022 — 8:24 am

      I can rattle off some of my favorite teachers today and still recall lessons they taught me. Others must not have made any impression because I have educators I don’t remember at all. I vowed never to become one of those teachers. Thanks for the comments, Dan.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My brother was one of the teachers you would remember. I enjoy knowing that there were teachers like this everywhere.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 21, 2022 — 4:12 pm

      I know I speak for many other bloggers besides myself when I tell you how much we appreciate your reblogs.

      Like

  43. Thanks for sharing your experiences and great advices, Pete! It is also helpful to recognise children’s needs. Later parentification can have very difficult consequences for children. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 21, 2022 — 4:16 pm

      What children need should always be the teacher’s primary concern. It reminds of eating at a restaurant. If we want them to come back (though choices in a school may be limited), then we better provide service with a smile.

      Like

  44. Like I always said Pete, the world needs more teachers like you and Jennie. It’s the teachers who go the extra miles and show compassion that are long remembered by students 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 21, 2022 — 6:56 pm

      Listening to your podcast about grief reinforces the notion that we all need compassion, particularly when we’re going through a tough time.

      Like

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