Tomorrow is Open House, and as we were doing our schedule at the end of the day today, I mentioned that we would be cleaning out our desks tomorrow. Most students didn’t respond one way or the other to this news, but one student actually groaned. You could tell he was upset by the news. This child is an amazing student that works hard and is always willing to help others. His desk though is constantly a mess, and he knows it. He realized that cleaning it out would be a challenging task. That’s when I decided to do something that I’ve never done before: I shared a bit from my past.
I told the students that when I was their age, there were big hexagonal tables in my classroom. These tables had an inside part though with a huge hole in the centre. I will never forget that hole, as the contents of my desk always fell through it. 🙂 I had the messiest desk ever. It was embarrassing to clean it out, as when the other students were always finished, I had barely started. At one point, my desk was so messy that the teacher actually gave me a bag to store all of the contents of my desk on top of my desk, as I couldn’t manage to put things neatly inside. I will never forget this!
All of the students were riveted by my story, but the best part of the story was hearing this student’s response to it. He looked at me and smiled and said, “If you can now keep a clean classroom, Miss Dunsiger, then I can keep a clean desk.” By sharing a bit of myself, this helped change this child’s view of tomorrow.
Telling this story though changed things for me too. I realized that I need to continue to share more of myself with my students. We may be teachers, but we’re human as well. Sharing these stories helps build connections with students, which also helps build trust.
Have you had an experience like this before? How do you share “yourself” with your students? I’d love to hear your stories!
Love the prompt! Here is one of my earliest sharing experiences. I had a terrible fall skiing at age 19, resulting in a serious leg fracture. In the aftermath, I just could not work up the courage to ski again. While chaperoning my grade 7 class on a ski trip during my first year teaching my students asked why I wasn’t skiing.
Rather than make up some excuse I told them about my accident 7 years earlier. While showing wonderful empathy, the students also reminded me that if I was always telling them to face their fears, shouldn’t I be prepared to do the same?
Which is why there were 27 adolescents and 1 new teacher gliding down the bunny hill.
As an added bonus, once I got the skis back on, it all came back 🙂
Thanks Brian, and thanks for sharing that amazing story! I’m so glad that this experience got you skiing again. Glad to hear it all came back to you so quickly too!
At the end of the school year, usually the last day I do 10 questions. I let the students ask 10 questions that they would like to know about. Usually they ask me if I have children, do I have pets etc. they absolutely love it.
This is a great activity, Chris! I’m sure the students love finding out more about you. I wonder if thie would be a good activity to do even earlier in the school year as well.
Thanks for the comment!
I have always shared with my students. I think the honesty helps build those necessary relationships that are so important to the classroom community. My kids knew that in third grade my dad had to come to school because I stuffed all of the work inside my desk because all I wanted to do was read. I have also shared my writing journals, photography, and stories about myself. In being open I found my students to be more trusting and open with me.
On of my favorite first graders, who I was lucky enough to have again in second grade, was also a saver. When we cleaned out our desks on the last day of school her classmates marveled at all that was there including things from the first week. Nicole, that same little girl, is now in film schools at UCLA.
Enjoy your weekend,
Thanks for the comment, JoAnn! I love hearing stories like this one. It definitely shows the power of sharing.