I was never much of a coffee drinker. I went to college before coffee was flavored and fashionable. I had a little coffee maker that I would use in extreme emergencies. My momma is an early riser and a coffee drinker. When the Keurig appeared on the scene, she was an early adopter. She likes to be on the cutting edge of coffee technology.
She first bought the one cup at a time model. When she decided to upgrade to a fancier one with a water reservoir, I inherited the one cupper. I started experimenting with different flavored coffee. I didn’t like creamer so I decided to add milk. I figured this coffee thing out. But it wasn’t a part of my daily routine. I would drink a cup if I was really cold but not everyday.
Until Momma upgraded to the newest Keurig and I got this one from her. She also passed along a refillable K-Cup and filters. Whoa! Life changer! A whole new world opened up. Target has a great line of flavored coffee that doesn’t come in K-Cup but now that I had a refillable K-Cup I can drink any flavor I want! I stock up on the limited time flavors like S’mores and Carmel Apple. Now coffee is a part of my life. I have a cup every morning and usually one at school.
By now you’re wondering, what does a Keuring machine have to do with education? The Keurig changed the way I think about coffee. It changed my daily routine.
You have the same power in your classroom and in your building. You can change the way a student feels about school. We all have a teacher we will remember forever. Is he or she the reason you are an educator? Have you ever thought about why that educator made an impact on you? They were your Keurig. You can be the Keurig to a student.
I had two such teachers. The first was Mrs. Bobbie Gourney, my first grade teacher. Mrs. Gourney made me feel so smart and loved. I can not remember why she made me feel smart but I distinctly remember what made me feel loved. She kept and displayed everything we brought her. Once I figured that out, I brought her anything I could get my hands on. She made me feel special by cherishing my gifts.
Your students may not bring you gifts wrapped up in bows but they bring themselves every day. Cherish that gift. Acknowledge that they are there. Ask for their input in class discussions if it’s not readily offered. Take an interest in the things that interest them. Here’s a wild idea: eat lunch in the student cafeteria once a month. Don’t tell them you’re coming, just have a seat. Eat what they eat. Then just listen. You’ll learn a lot!
The second teacher I remember is Mrs. Patsy Lamb, my third grade teacher. Mrs. Lamb had a claw foot tub in her room for reading. I loved that tub. In third grade, we departmentalized. I went to another teacher for ‘advanced’ math. I can not remember her name. But I remember that she used a slide projector to project multiplication facts on the wall. I bombed all those tests. I could not see the facts and I was too scared to say anything. One day the math teacher sent me back to Mrs. Lamb with a note saying that I needed to go to regular math from now on. I remember crying to Mrs. Lamb and she just hugged me. She finally asked what was the problem. I told her I couldn’t see the multiplication facts on the wall so I keep getting bad grades. Mrs. Lamb called my momma and my life with corrective lenses began. Naturally, I thought I’d go back to advanced math. When the teacher snubbed me, Mrs. Lamb came the rescue again. She consoled me and let me spend a good part of the day in the claw foot tub reading Harriet the Spy, again.
Ask your students questions. Find out why they’re happy or why they’re upset. With younger kids (and my own boys) my favorite question is to ask “What happened right before that?” Give second chances. And third and fourth and fifth. We’re in the business of educating students, not punishing them. Find out what they need and help them get it. Don’t leave it to the next teacher. Take action. Let kids learn in the way that’s best for them, as far as your curriculum will allow. Make sure that they know you know and notice them.
Most of us became educators to make a difference, to change a life. Sometimes we forget that in the middle of new initiatives, standardized testing and our own struggles. Never forget, you are a powerful force in the life of the young people who enter your room. Be the Keurig!