Not Easily Broken: The Educational Three-Cord Strand Between Educators, Parents, and StudentsJune 27, 2023
This article originally appeared on LouisianaFirstFoundation.com as the school year was coming to a close in May 2023 and is reprinted here with permission. The Louisiana First Foundation was founded by Louisiana First Lady Donna Hutto Edwards, a former public school educator. You’ll also enjoy “The Big Three: Reflect, Refuel, Reset” by Dereka Duncan (LA ’22) and “Making the Most of Summer Break” by Elise Tureau Frederic (LA ’22).
Dear education stakeholders,
You have made it! Breathe in, think about the challenges, successes, and upcoming mental and physical rest that are coming this summer, and now breathe it all out. It is hard to believe that another school year is done, but it’s true. It’s now time to come together and celebrate our students’ hard work and the completion of a job well done. Below are some thoughts of encouragement that I want to share with you.
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” — B.B. King
You are resilient! As the school year ends, I want first to congratulate you on a great year of learning. Your teachers and family are proud of you. I also invite you to sit back and reflect on the school year. You have done a great job!
As summer approached, I asked my third graders to share wisdom on ending the year strong. Here is what they had to say:
“Always go above and beyond. Spend your time with the people you love the most, have good behavior, and be a great student. Be confident in yourself because I know you can do your best work. Be helpful, always determined, brave, hardworking, and a great problem solver.” — A, future motivational speaker
“My advice to give a student is telling them to study, work hard, and pick up their grades. You are doing amazing. Keep trying and never give up. Some more advice is to remember all your friends, have a great time, respect your teacher and friends, and pay attention when your teacher is teaching and talking.” — R, a future leader
“My advice is you should not talk when the teacher says not to. My second advice is to study more and get prepared for any test or LEAP. My third advice is not to have any negativity and don’t give up on your dreams.” — R, a sweetheart
“You should listen to the teacher the first time because it will just get you into more trouble if you don’t. You should study more and don’t give up. You can do it because I know you can.” — B, a future teacher
“You can do the right thing when someone is watching and when someone is not watching. A second way you can end the year strong is that you can focus on all your tests. My last way that you can end the year is to be considerate, nice, and thoughtful to somebody.” — A, a future police officer
“My advice to another student to finish the year strong is to do acts of kindness, listen in class, be nice, and make memories because you might not see people again. Also, become a leader and encourage people to [do well on] the LEAP and study.” — L, a future leader
“Some advice I would give to a student to finish the year strong is to keep being funny but don’t take it too far. Keep making A’s, B’s, and C’s and study so you can make a good grade and pass third grade.” — K, a future comedian
“My advice to other students to end the year strong is to be kind, never forget your friends, be happy, and have fun in summer.” — L, a future entrepreneur
“My advice to give someone is that they should listen to the teacher. They should also pay close attention to whatever the teacher is explaining to the class. You must be very considerate of others. You can make cards also. It can show how much you care about that person.” — K, an encourager
“My advice is you need to listen to an adult and when one of the teachers tells you something, do it. You should do your best on a test and at school. You can remember your friends and how much you love school and your teacher. Think about how you had fun at school with your teachers.” — J, a future nurse
“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” — Lady Bird Johnson
Parents, for eight hours a day and 150+ days a year, you entrust us with the education of your most prized possession. We, as educators, recognize the amount of faith this takes. Thank you for your partnership and for recognizing that education is a team effort. Know that all your effort matters, from getting the student to school on time, the hours of helping with homework, communicating with teachers, and keeping your child motivated. Give yourself a pat on the back; summer is your reward too.
To not lose momentum for all of the wonderful learning that has taken place and to avoid the “summer slide,” here are some ideas for fun ways to continue learning. Find opportunities to maximize learning in everyday experiences, such as incorporating math at the grocery store, letting a walk in the park become your science lesson, and encouraging reading by adding closed captions to their favorite TV show. Also, utilize free programs at your local library or research days of free children’s admission to museums.
Finally, let your children play and be children. They have worked so hard and deserve it! Encourage opportunities where their imaginations can come alive, and they can enjoy that carefree feeling of being a child.
“It is the supreme art of a teacher to awaken the joy in creative expression and knowledge.” — Albert Einstein
The work we do to make our lessons engaging and give our students multiple ways to express their knowledge is not easy. Kudos for being the type of professional who understands each of your classes’ unique needs and does the work to meet those needs. We have stood squarely in the face of many obstacles and overcome them!
As much as we look forward to May, it can be bittersweet. It’s the moments like the end-of-the-year to-do lists, meetings, packing up our classrooms, and saying goodbye to the unique personalities we have spent every day with for the past year. Yet it is also exciting to anticipate the summer rest, enjoy our families, and go on vacations.
May is also a time of reflection. One thing I love to do is reflect on student growth. Celebrating their hard work and improvement is rewarding, no matter how small. The students are amazed and proud of themselves and how much they have grown. One area where growth can be easily measured is their writing samples. It is an incredible moment when students recognize their own growth in vocabulary choices and their ability to structure more complex sentences. One of my favorite sayings I tell my students is, “The more you practice, the more you grow!” May is the perfect time for students to reflect on how that practice has paid off.
Dear teacher, what has growth looked like in your classroom? Here are a few of mine.
I think of the student who really struggled at the beginning of the year and the discouragement that can come with earning poor grades. However, after goal-setting meetings, small group interventions, personal effort, and perseverance, the student ended the year successfully.
I think of the student who, at the beginning of the year, faced daily high anxiety at the thought of whole group participation, such as reading text aloud or answering questions. However, with the help of parents, other campus stakeholders, and a welcoming classroom culture, the student now breezes through the day with a smile and is comfortable expressing themselves in whole group as well as “turn and talk” situations.
I think of the student who refused to do any work and whose actions were a continuous distraction to others. However, with self-regulation strategies, peer support, and encouragement, they have shown significant improvement in their ability to hold themselves accountable.
Dear teacher, the success stories may look different in your classroom, but I challenge you to look around your room and reflect on all your growth stories, however big or small they are. You have done a great job. Congrats!
So, dear students, parents, and teachers: Breathe in, reflect on all your accomplishments this year, and breathe out. Take time this summer to do what you love and celebrate yourself for who you are and all your hard work. Be encouraged and take time this summer to rest, restore, and rejuvenate.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin
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