I strongly believe that one of my most important jobs as a teacher, especially of first graders, is that of advocate. Whether I am talking with other teachers, various school committees, parents, or anyone else, I think that I must be a powerful advocate for what I believe is best for my students.
No matter how hard I work for my kids, I can not meet every single need of every one of them. No teacher can do that for every child in their classroom. It doesn't matter how small the class size is. And some parents don't know how to advocate for their children. There has to be someone who can be there to advocate for each child. I believe this as a teacher and, even more, as a parent.
The best advocate for a child is that child. One of the most important things we can do for our students is to help them become responsible for their own learning and help them learn to advocate for themselves.
Building responsibility for their own learning is not a stretch as a role a teacher should play. Helping them learn to advocate for themselves is not as obvious. I firmly believe they are equally important, and as important as any piece of content I will teach them.
How we help them with both of these ideas is less certain for me. I think there are a lot of things I do to help my first graders become more responsible for their own learning. Helping them recognize what they need and how to get it is more of a challenge. It's something I'll be thinking about a lot more.