Loving this talk! Powerful, insightful, and informative, with implications greater than education. Rita Pierson is an educator with over 40 years experience. She purposes that the key to being an effective teacher is in the relationship said person has with their students. We often forget that we are social and communal beings, the very foundation of this being relationships. What she suggests taps in to something we are programmed to do naturally but due to various institutional pressures rarely do often. Go on and let us begin to build stronger and healthier relationships.
“I think Stephen Covey had the right idea. He said you ought to just throw in a few simple things, like seeking first to understand as opposed to being understood, simple things like apologizing. You ever thought about that? Tell a kid you’re sorry, they’re in shock.”
“One year I came up with a bright idea. I told all my students, “You were chosen to be in my class because I am the best teacher and you are the best students, they put us all together so we could show everybody else how to do it.”
I said, “Really. We have to show the other classes how to do it, so when we walk down the hall, people will notice us, so you can’t make noise. You just have to strut.” And I gave them a saying to say: “I am somebody. I was somebody when I came. I’ll be a better somebody when I leave. I am powerful, and I am strong. I deserve the education that I get here. I have things to do, people to impress, and places to go.”
“For years I watched my mother take the time at recess to review, go on home visits in the afternoon, buy combs and brushes and peanut butter and crackers to put in her desk drawer for kids that needed to eat, and a washcloth and some soap for the kids who didn’t smell so good. See, it’s hard to teach kids who stink. And kids can be cruel. And so she kept those things in her desk, and years later, after she retired, I watched some of those same kids come through and say to her, “You know, Ms. Walker, you made a difference in my life. You made it work for me. You made me feel like I was somebody, when I knew, at the bottom, I wasn’t. And I want you to just see what I’ve become.”
And when my mama died two years ago at 92, there were so many former students at her funeral, it brought tears to my eyes, not because she was gone, but because she left a legacy of relationships that could never disappear.”
“Teaching and learning should bring joy. How powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion? Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”