I think one of the most valuable lessons you can give to your students is show that you are human: that you have fears, insecurities, and make mistakes, too!  I had a moment yesterday with one of my Reading Recovery students as we walked up the stairs to my room.

I saw what looked like a spider or a large bug in the shadows of the steps.  I saw he saw it too.  He started to lean over as if to pick it up.  “DON’T TOUCH IT!” I shouted.  He jumped back, with wide eyes, and looked at me.  “But it’s not alive.” he quietly said back to me.  I wasn’t convinced if it was dead or alive, but regardless, I didn’t want him touching it.

He leaned over to grab it again and I shouted to not touch it again, but it was too late.  He had already scooped it up in his hands.  Now I’m pressed up against the wall screaming as he thrusts it into my face.  “See?!?  It’s not alive!”  Now I can see that it is plastic and my heart attack stops.  Daniel is grinning from ear to ear.  He is happy to see that I have fears.  “Are you afraid, Ms. Acuff?” he asks.  “Very much so!” I reply.  And so begins a discussion of things we are afraid of.  He is still beaming that he was brave and I was scared and we wrote about his new found object.

Later that evening we had parent-teacher conferences and I was able to share the humorous moment with his parents when they were concerned their English Language Learning son wasn’t making connections between the two languages.  I showed them this very much wasn’t the case.  He understands the humor and bravery established earlier in the day.

I went into his classroom this afternoon to pick him up for his Reading Recovery lesson and several of his classmates shouted at me, “You were scared of the spider, Ms. Acuff?”  Daniel had shared our story with his classmates during sharing time.  I owned it.  I’m human!  And I’m glad students could benefit from the teachable moment that we all aren’t so different after all.