We remember that they are more than just our students. We remember, at the very forefront of our minds, that they light up the life of a parent, a grandmother, a sister or brother, aunt or uncle. They are someone's best friend. They have a favorite toy. They can't wait to go home and hug their dog, pet their cat or grab their hamster out of their cage.
We remember that they need time to paint, even though it's messy. They deserve to dance and sing, even though it's noisy. They deserve to go outside and play, even when it's too cold or too hot for us. They deserve time to play games with a thousand little pieces that they never put back in the box. They are children who deserve to be children.
We remember that they deserve our best. They deserve to be given what we know they need. They deserve to be seen as individuals, not test scores, not a name in a data binder, not another RTI packet to be filled out. They deserve the benefit of our experience. They deserve the best education that we can provide for them, in the way that we know they need it, on the timeline we know they will grasp it.
I, for one, am taking back my classroom. My students. I will be the teacher they need. I will do my best to prepare them for the assessments they must take. I will be sure to do what I'm supposed to do for this new wave of teacher evaluations. But I will no longer allow those things to dictate how I behave as a teacher. I will keep those things in the back of my mind, but I will keep the true needs of my students in my heart. Because at the end of the day, that's what really matters.