I Believe the Children are our Future

Whitney Houston’s funeral was being held as I started to write this post. While it serves as the inspiration of the post, it is not the topic.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Vankuso (Dominik Starosz)

On Friday, while meeting with a group of teachers, one said, “I hear Whitney.” Indeed she did. I had forgotten to silence my phone during the meeting. Part of the lyrics to Whitney Houston’s song The Greatest Love of All happens to be my current ringtone.

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.

This portion of the song has always been a favorite. As a classroom teacher I started out many school years with this song as a reminder of my belief in my students and my goals as an educator. The ringtone seemed fitting and inspirational just in case I ever forgot to silence my phone!

Each child’s future is shaped by many. Teachers are key figures in this transformation process. Teacher beliefs, expectations and assumptions of potential weigh heavily in the student achievement equation. Research “clearly establishes that teacher expectations do play a significant role in determining how well and how much students learn” (Jerry Bamburg 1994).

Students tend to internalize the beliefs teachers have about their ability. Generally, they “rise or fall to the level of expectation of their teachers…. When teachers believe in students, students believe in themselves. When those you respect think you can, you think you can” (James Raffini 1993).

I believe the children are our future

Children have and always will be our future. Each generation is expected to learn from individuals of a past generation in order to lead the way into the future. Todd Whitaker writes, “Teachers are the profession that make all other professions possible.”

If we believe the children are our future, we must teach them for their future. We are now 12 years into the 21st century. Each day I see teachers embracing 21st century learning skills and becoming comfortable with many new aspects that will transform their classrooms!

Technology is ever-changing. We must give ourselves permission not to know everything. If problem solving and collaborating with others are skills we want our students to posses, we must engage in these skills as educators when it comes to new learning. Goals to integrate technology, collaboration and global connections should be set on a manageable timeline while keeping in mind a sense of urgency.

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Many teachers and/or whole schools are using inquiry based methods, flex grouping and other approaches that allows the child to lead the way. These methods honor the child as a learner. They add rigor and authenticity to learning. The teachers serve as guides. Teachers must have a in-depth knowledge of their core standards – yet understand that letting children “lead the way” is not always a linear process. Building on students’ unique interests and needs is necessary for success.

Curricular changes are happening across the country. Many states have adopted the Common Core. Teachers need opportunities to investigate and plan for curricular changes. In Iowa we are calling this process “Deep Investigations.” Opportunities for teachers to come together by grade levels to investigate and unpack the standards is a great step to ensuring that the standards become a part of the enacted curriculum, not merely the written curriculum sitting on the self or housed online. The basis of any curricular process promoted in Iowa revolves around the 5 Characteristics of Effective Instruction:

S = Student Centered Classrooms

T = Teaching for Understanding

A = Assessment for Learning

R = Rigorous and Relevant Curriculum

T = Teaching for Learner Differences

Show them all the beauty they possess inside AND Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Todd Whitaker, author of “What Great Teachers Do Differently” share 14 things that matter most (in the first  edition). Many of these revolve around how we show respect and help students believe in themselves. Where do you see yourself with the follow characteristics?

1. Great teachers never forget that it is people, not programs, that determine the quality of a school.

2. Great teachers establish clear expectations at the start of the year and follow them consistently as the year progresses.

3. When a student misbehaves, great teachers have one goal: to keep that behavior from happening again.

4. Great teachers have high expectations for students, but even higher expectations for themselves.

5. Great teachers know who is the variable in the classroom: THEY are.

6. Great teachers create a positive atmosphere in their classrooms and schools.

7. Great teachers consistently filter out the negatives that don’t matter and share a positive attitude.

8. Great teachers work hard to keep their relationships in good repair–to avoid personal hurt and to repair any possible damage.

9. Great teachers have the ability to ignore trivial disturbances and the ability to respond to inappropriate behavior without escalating the situation.

10. Great teachers have a plan and purpose for everything they do.

11. Before making any decision or attempting to bring about any change, great teachers ask themselves one central question: “What will the best people think?”

12. Great teachers treat everyone as if they were good.

13. Great teachers keep standardized testing in perspective.

14. Great teachers care about their students, and understand the power of emotion to jump-start change.

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

It has been said, laughter is the best medicine. I have the opportunity to see many students in their learning environments. It warms my heart to see students who are enjoying what they are doing and learning – as much as I did as a child.

Yet, there are still children who do not wear a smile. What are we doing as educators to brighten EACH child’s day? A kind word, a compliment, or the time to visit with a child can go along way. The more we show a child we care and believe in them and their abilities, the more they will succeed! Treating all with dignity and respect is essential.


Bamburg, Jerry. Raising Expectations To Improve Student Learning. Oak Brook, Illinois: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1994. 33 pages.

Raffini, James. Winners Without Losers: Structures and Strategies for Increasing Student Motivation To
Learn. Needham Heights, Massachusetts: Allyn and Bacon, 1993. 286 pages.


  • Susan Jordan 28 Mar

    This has so much good information for all teachers. Thanks for sharing why we are teachers and why we love this job. I have so many good ideas to share. Thanks again.

  • Kimberly Roe 8 Nov

    This is a great post. Thank you for sharing your love for teaching and this information. You are truly an inspiration, not only in the children’s lives but in the lives of everyone who reads this.

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