Important Life Lessons I've Learned From My Students

Important Life Lessons I've Learned From My Students

Sometimes the greatest lessons come from the most unlikely places.
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As long as I can remember, I've always loved children. It's something about their inquisitive natures and childlike demeanors...whatever it may be, I've created a career out of it. I started coaching kids in gymnastics when I was in high school, I've worked at summer camps, and now I'm a residential counselor at a psychiatric residential treatment facility. In each of these jobs, I have had the responsibility of teaching kids, supporting their growth, engaging in their treatment, and ultimately fostering their success. I have been the one in the leadership role, yet I often find myself wondering whether I'm the one doing the teaching, or the one being taught.

Kids are unaware of the impact they have on those around them. The inherent knowledge they possess combined with their unfiltered forms of expression exude honesty, creativity, and curiosity. Over the years, I have tried to teach my children about life; yet they have been the ones to teach me what life is truly about.

Here's some of the most important life lessons the children I work with have taught me:

Imagination has no age.

It never ceases to astound me the creative imaginations the children I work with possess. No idea is too far-fetched, nothing is impossible, and their dreams are riddled with innovation and magic. My students have taught me that you never get too old to imagine; that whatever age you are, you still have that piece of magic in you that allows you to dream big and believe in the impossible.

We all have an inner child.

The older we get, the more life becomes about work, responsibilities, and everything dull and dry in between. We need to remember to take time out to enjoy life, to find those things that remind us of our childhood days. You're never too old to play. My students have taught me that no matter what life throws at me next, I'll always have that inner child in my heart.

Feedback is critical to success.

Criticism and feedback are often difficult to give and take, but it's important to realize that the people around us can help foster our growth. We get so caught up in our mindset that it becomes difficult to break free of the ways in which we think. In order to support someone and help them achieve their full potential, it's necessary to provide feedback. Just as important, we must receive feedback and refrain from getting angry and frustrated about it. Feedback is a further opportunity for growth.

Live for the moment; for the little joys in life.

Children have a hard time thinking ahead and seeing the bigger picture. Instead, they live moment by moment--they feel and express emotions based on their current situation. As adults, our minds are full of tons of different feelings, anxieties, plans and thoughts. It's easy for us to forget about the moment we are in due to our thoughts about an upcoming situation. Kids teach us to slow down and really focus on the moment we are in.

Love unconditionally.

The older we get the more we learn that loving can be hard. Love hurts. Watching the way children love those around them is one of the most inspiring things I have ever experienced. They teach us to forgive each other, that love is one of the most important things.

Be honest.

Children have no filter. 75% of the time, their remarks can make a situation go downhill. However, they teach us to be unafraid of how we feel and be genuine with our thoughts and feelings.

We condition ourselves to divide.

Children don't know about religion, race, and culture. They learn from observing those around them. We need to learn to be understanding of others and stop forcing divides based on personal aspects of each person's identity. Children teach us that we all are equal; none of us are better or worse than the other. Children remind us that in the end, we are all human.

Sometimes the greatest lessons come from the most unlikely places.

I never expected to learn as much as I have through my experiences working with my students. The most important lesson I've learned? You're never too old to stop learning.

Cover Image Credit: huffpost.com

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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House Hunting At Its Finest

It's incredibly stressful and takes way too long!

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House hunting is hard. I thought at first it would be fun, exciting, and interesting. But now, I'm tired and bored and just want to give up.

I've been looking for a house for a month now and I knew it going in to it, it would take a while. I knew that I wouldn't just walk into the first house and be like, "this is it, this is the one".

But, when you look at 6-10 houses every time you search a day, it gets stressful and tiring.

When I started looking at houses it was because I was planning on getting a house with some friends to rent out for the next 3 years while at UCF. All because I didn't get a spot-on campus with the lottery, I got waitlisted. So, I need to look for housing to secure a place to live next fall.

Now, my dad wants to turn it into a small business. Buy a house, rent out the rooms for a reasonable price, cheaper than some apartments, and make a profit.

It sounds like a good plan.

But then you have to factor in: location and how far it is from campus, the price range in which you could make a profit, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the price per square inch, the property taxes, if the house needs work or not, upgrades, improvement, parking availability, etc. The list just goes on and on.

It's hard to find the "perfect" house.

I want to be able to make it "home" for the next 3 years. I want to make it somewhere where I can hang out, have friends over, and love to live in.

Every time I walk into a new house, I automatically think, "what would I do to this room? Or that?". I think of furniture and décor. I think about how I would design it and make it ours.

I even made a Pinterest board, one for home décor and one for bedrooms.

I feel like I'm going overboard but I can't help it.

I get excited when it comes to the designing aspect, but my parents have to be so nit-picky. They came up over the weekend to search for houses with me and every time we walk into a house I hear: "the carpet is stained, needs to be removed", "the kitchen is outdated, needs to be upgraded", "the bathroom needs work", "the wall has a hole", "not enough bathrooms" and so much more.

It's not like I don't chime in with comments either.

I do put in a fair share of my personal opinions about the quality of the houses too.

But, at this point I wish we could just settle on something. Again, I know this takes time but I just get anxious.

So, we are going into the 5thweek and still haven't agreed on a house. My mom has her picks, my dad has his, and I have mine. And none of them overlap. Frankly, I don't get a "say" in what my parents chose since they will be purchasing the house. But, I get to live in it, my friends are the ones who will be paying them rent. So, I feel like my opinion matters. Whenever I ask questions or give input, they talk over me.

As if, I wasn't even there!

Yet, that is how the ball rolled. Wow, I'm borderline whining over here. It's not like I'm not grateful but, I wish I was valued as an adult helping in this situation.

Well thank you for coming to my "TED" talk! And reading about yet another annoying and trivial struggle of mine. I'll write again soon.

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