After watching the “presidential” debate, I had the following thoughts: I adore children. I loved teaching them for 30 years. Reflecting back, they responded well, knowing my respect for them as individuals. On the first day of school, they wrote their own rules and consequences, giving them democratic ownership. Behaviors like bullying, insulting, bragging, lying, blaming, cheating and spreading rumors were discussed as damaging to others. Classroom cohesion was emphasized.
Over the year, we built skill sets, including critical thinking, conflict resolution, team building, openness to all opinions and a strong work ethic. We worked on building character, including values of kindness, compassion, inclusion, respect, encouragement, tolerance of all races and religions, and gender equality. These values surfaced in many teachable moments.
A poster up all year in my classroom stated, “Knowledge is Power.” I stressed the importance of science, math, history, geography, reading, clear writing, the arts, other cultures, fact versus opinion, correct grammar and articulate speech. We studied environmental issues such as trash/recycling, the watershed of Flathead Lake, the difference between weather and climate, and the importance of taking care of the earth. On Veterans’ Day, my father came in full dress uniform to tell them about flying the Aleutian Chain during the war. They showed him great respect.
As a teacher, my goal was to create peace and unity in our classroom while we learned together. Where are these students today? I hope they remember what I taught them. And I hope they vote in the most important election of our lives.
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