Greater Influence Than Just Inside the Classroom

Students pick up more than you realize

~ By Brittany

Students pick up on a lot more than we think they do. Each of my classes lasts 50 minutes so I try my best to fit as much English into the short amount of time we have together. Most classes I am overwhelmed by how incredibly intelligent my students are and how much their little minds can soak up. Other days, not so much…to be completely honest, I have had days where I question whether they learned anything at all. The saying is true, “you get out of something what you put into it.” My students are completely capable of learning if they put in the effort to learn.

Our fourth graders have been learning about parts of the body and how to keep the body healthy. We taught them healthy and unhealthy foods, benefits of drinking water, and the importance of good hygiene. One whole class our focus was on healthy and unhealthy foods. We had two different images of one skinnier man who we called “Healthy Tom” and an overweight man who we called “Unhealthy Tom.” During this lesson, we taught the importance of eating healthy and regular exercise to remain in good shape. We had a whole list of foods that we labeled ‘healthy’ such as different types of fruits and vegetables and water and ‘unhealthy’ such as coca cola, chips, candies, and sugar. I didn’t realize how much my students grasped the vocabulary in English and the topic of healthy and unhealthy foods until the next day when one student approached me. This day, I had forgot to pack a snack for recess and the school had a visitor come in to help with our Library Reader Program so I didn’t have time to go buy a real lunch. So, I quickly ran to the shop across the street and grabbed the first bag of chips I could find to hold me off until I could eat at home.

So there I am, sitting in the library listening to the story when Carlos walks up to me and says “Teacher, you are going to turn into unhealthy Tom!” I could not believe my ears!! The day before, I had spent an hour teaching these kids not to eat chips and unhealthy food and there I am doing that exact thing! First, I was shocked because he called me out about eating unhealthy and secondly, because that occurrence proved he learned what I was teaching enough to apply it to a real-life situation. Although I was embarrassed, I was more proud. Proud that my students recognize the importance of listening in class and applying in life, proud that they felt comfortable enough to say something to me about eating unhealthy foods when I was teaching them it was bad, and proud that they are learning and growing as people. My students are always surprising me with how much they are learning.

Even when teaching gets hard, even when it seems as if they are not learning, they always remind me that they are. The influence I have on them is great and in circumstances like this one I am reminded that the students always look up to you and always watch what you are doing. Not only are they influenced by me and my actions and character but I am influenced by them. I want to be the best role model for my students that I can be and that means being a teacher not only in the classroom but in the community, as well.

Being a teacher is much more than standing in front of a class of 30 students at a time to teach them information about a certain subject, in my case English. Being a teacher here in Isla Mujeres means being a ‘teacher’ everywhere I go, whether that be the beach, the grocery store, or even the little corner shop down the street. It means seeing my students and even their parents outside of class, in the streets, at the bike shop when I need to fix my tire, waiting in line at the Super Express, and even squished together in a taxi ride downtown. My influence reaches outside the classroom and into the community. I have an incredible opportunity to learn from these interactions but also plenty of chances to influence this younger generation.