1. Start each day with a smile. Working with kids who literally forget what happened yesterday has taught me a lot about letting go of the past. Whatever happened, that’s done. Today is what matters now.
2. Don’t believe everything you hear about someone. From the 1st grader with anger issues to the secretary with a prickly demeanor who everyone warns you about, treat them like you haven’t heard anything about them. Give them a chance to prove everyone wrong. Because chances are, they will.
3. Get excited about the small stuff. Feathers that float in the air. Chipmunks. New crayons. A bubble. Seeing a real horse. Watching kids get excited about these things has restored my sense of wonder. Because when I stop and think about it, life really is amazing.
4. Be kind. No matter what someone has done to you or said to you, be kind to them anyways. Often the ones who inflict the most pain are in the most pain themselves.
5. Don’t ever stop learning. When I think about the fact that these 6 and 7 year olds are learning to look at marks on a piece of paper that a year ago were complete nonsense, and now they’re reading words and sentences and stories, it completely amazes me. And it inspires me to keep challenging myself and keep learning.
6. Take time to listen. Some of the things that kids have told me this year have made me laugh. Some of them have broken my heart. Some of them have made me stop and think about who I am. But I never would have had any of those experiences if I didn’t make it a priority every day to make time to listen when a kid wants to talk.
7. Love. When I started this year, I prayed that I would be able to love these kids like Jesus loves them. I never expected the way that would look. The way I would just keep forgiving them and loving them, no matter how many times they defied me, how many times they embarrassed me by acting out. And it wasn’t a chore or a challenge- I just loved them. And that kind of love completely changed me.