There Are No Grades in First Grade

English: PEARL HARBOR (March 3, 2009) Boatswai...
Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Rasheema Newsome reads Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat to students (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Elementary education is going through a lot of changes right now. Parents want to control every facet of their child’s education. Administrators are concerned primarily with safety and quotas. Where do the teachers come in?

It used to be that the teacher was the focal point of the child’s day-to-day. Now, we are pushing independent learning and centres, where the teacher is simply observing and recording. Our job is to challenge and push our young students into becoming the best adults that they can be.

What do we need to teach to foster a life-long love of learning?

Confidence – One of our greatest responsibilities as Elementary Educators is fostering a love of learning. Our students need us there to encourage their successes, and walk them through their failures.

Competence – Young educators grew up in the self titled “Self-esteem generation”. We were told that we could never be wrong, and that we were all special and unique. Now we are seeing collapses in global economies, and it’s the responsibility of educators to produce competent adults for our new generation of students. We need to show them that failure is okay, and can be recognized. We don’t learn from our successes like we do from our failures.

Independence – Parents are concerned about safety, and we should be to. However, despite our concerns, we cannot allow ourselves to overprotect our students. We need to give them projects over which they have control, and encourage them to explore independently. Standing away from a child at work and watching the moments of discovery is one of the most rewarding parts of being a teacher.

Trust – Our students will grow up. They will enter the wide economic world. If we have done our jobs, they will not be surprised and hurt when they find out what it’s really like out there. Our students need the truth from us. They need us to tell them when they need to work on a skill. They need to be able to trust that we really are acting in their best interests, even when it hurts them.

Set the tone!

It’s very easy to lose sight of our goals as educators once we step into our first classrooms. Behaviour issues, parental concerns, administrative demands, and our own syllabic pressure can cloud our primary goals. We set the tone for education for the rest of their lives. Whether they love or hate learning, it is because of the experiences they had in the elementary classroom.

About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Debra Johnson, blogger and editor of She welcomes your comments below or via email – jdebra84 @

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