Pay It Forward
More than anything else in the world, in relation to her work, a teacher cares most about what her students have actually learned. She always wonders if she’s getting through to her students every day. I know I do. It pleases me and gives me a sense of achievement whenever I see proof that my students are understanding the lessons. Imagine how God must feel every time we show him just how much we need to learn from him.
A week ago we were practicing our morning meeting, a 30-minute presentation done by each level to showcase what they have learned in class. There are four levels of classes: Pre-K, A, B, and C. I teach one of the Level B classes. Our reading curriculum is organized with lessons based around different themes. Recently Level B classes have been reading stories based on the themes of Kindness and City Wildlife. To make sure that our kids really understood the concepts we were working on, I found a video about kindness showing a Pay-It-Forward kind of concept with people helping one another in a chain reaction. As a preview for the presentation, the Level B students watched the video. They enjoyed the video, but didn’t seem to give it any kind of special thought. I was a bit disappointed.
One of the things that we train our kids to do at school is to be disciplined. Every morning as they change from their tennis shoes to their classroom slippers, we remind them they should arrange their shoes neatly along the wall. One morning this week I saw some pairs of shoes were not neatly arranged. I called the attention of the owners of the shoes to arrange them correctly. What happened next touched me and surprised me as well!
One owner was about to go to his shoes to fix them when the person standing next to the shoes immediately arranged them. The owner smiled in gratitude and was about to line up when he heard me call another of the students to fix her shoes. As the girl was about to go and fix her shoes, the boy who was helped first ran to her shoes to fix them himself. Then he looked at me, smiled, and said, “Like in the movie, teacher. He helped me. I’m going to help her too.” After saying that, he went back to his line and went to his room.
The day passed, I was done teaching my lessons and I finally sat down in my classroom. I pondered about the one seemingly insignificant situation that had taken place that morning.
They were all Level B students. They were the ones we showed the video to first. They were the ones we taught about kindness. I thought the unit didn’t impress them much. I was absolutely wrong. They had learned. And when they saw an opportunity to apply the lesson, they did it as if they had done it many times in their lives. It was amazing! Another realization hit me. Unlike adults, kids don’t tend to be so dramatic and touchy about movies they see that teach them a wonderful lesson. But it doesn’t mean they don’t care. They are internalizing the idea, waiting for an opportunity to apply exactly what they gained from that lesson.
What a precious treasure!