I love being a fifth year teacher because that means there are four grade levels of students running around our school that used to be in my class. Former students are great! They come running up to me with hugs and exclamations that I’m still their favorite teacher. However, it was quite disappointing to talk to some of those kiddos and realize that they don’t remember a lot of the things I taught them. And then to talk to the 4th grade teachers who say the students don’t know how to multiply when we spent 4 months on multiplication in third grade was quite frustrating. So much blood, sweat, and tears went into those lessons, it made me feel like a failure!
And then my team and I had a realization. We came to terms with the fact that our students are not robots. They are not going to remember every fact we try to cram into their little rapidly developing brains. And that’s okay!
We’ve realized that the things we really need to focus on helping them remember are things like how to work together in groups, how to problem solve through conflicts, how to make friends and keep them, how to show good character, how to view iPads and technology devices as tools and not just toys, how to take notes, how to find reliable information online, how to get organized and stay organized, how to take what they learn and apply it, how to manage anxiety and stress, how to take chances, make mistakes and learn from them. These are life skills.
They may not remember that Rome fought Carthage in the Punic Wars, or that meteors are called meteorites when they fall to Earth, or the difference between comparative and superlative adjectives, or that 6 x 7= 42. We are still going to do our best to teach them all those things, but if at the end of the year they have learned how to be a good friend and they feel more prepared for life, then I consider that a win.
What is on your list of life skills that you hope to teach your students?