Do you remember when you were very little, and you dreamed of being an astronaut? Or perhaps you dreamed of being a movie star, or a football player or maybe even an international spy?
I remember those days, the days when these hopes and dreams seemed to be within reach. But, along came Father Time, and with him a harsh dose of reality. Not every one can be a movie star or an astronaut, and do they even still have international spies?
Now, I want you to try very hard to remember what you wanted to be when you were little. Can you remember? I think I wanted to be a spy, like Harriet the Spy, or a singer, a dancer, and even once I wanted to marry Mickey Dolenz.
Now, what was I talking about before I started humming “Daydream Believer”? Oh, yeah, hopes and dreams.
At Easterly Parkway Elementary, there are some teachers (myself included) who do a very cool activity at the beginning of each year about hopes and dreams. The activity starts with some community building activities, which all teachers do from day one. (You know, getting to know each others’ names, interests, etc.)
In conjunction with those activities, we ask the children what their hopes and dreams are for the year. What do they really hope to learn, and dream of doing this school year?
Of course, we all have our own hopes that someone will say that they want to learn to read or to learn math stuff, or something school-ish like that. Of course, you know what we get. The really cool stuff, the funny stuff, the stuff that we all dreamed of when we were 6 years old!
Do you remember? Well, here’s a little reminder of what 6-year-olds are hoping for ...
I hope to learn about Ninjas!
I hope to learn to be a ballerina.
I hope to learn about butterflies.
I hope to learn about aliens. I saw one ya know!
I hope to learn about Spiderman and all the super heroes!
I hope my friend Lydia stops pretending she doesn’t know me.
I hope to learn about dinosaurs.
I hope I get to work at Wendy’s when I grow up. But if they aren’t hiring, then I hope I can work at Walmart.
I hope to learn to do a flip. (I’m not sure, but I don’t think the physical education teacher does that ...)
After trying to keep a straight face through this, I make a list of these so we can reflect on them at the end of the year. The children draw a self portrait (that’s the best part) and we hang them in the hallway for all to see!
I also make a list of the hopes and dreams that I have for the year. They are as follows:
I hope that the children learn to tie their shoes. My fingers and back are sore.
I hope that the children learn to use a tissue and not their fingers.
I hope the children learn to pull their pants down after they get into the bathroom and up when they’re done.
I hope the children learn to be kind to one another, and use their words instead of punching and pinching when they are mad. (OK, moms, no one really gets hurt.)
I hope that they learn to flush the toilet, even if it’s after someone else.
As I get older, I also spend more time thinking about what I truly hope for their future. I hope that they do not attend all the parties that kids have in high school. I pray they do not have to attend the funeral of a fellow student, cousin or sibling who has lost their life in a tragic accident that could have been prevented. I hope that they have self-confidence and are not afraid to go after their dreams. I hope that they have a friend to cling to when they tumble, stumble and fumble in life. It will happen, over and over again. But, these mistakes are opportunities to learn, to grow and to mature. I hope they have a family to love them, and that all of their teachers appreciate all of their idiosyncrasies as much as I do. I hope that they enjoy all of the successes they will surely have, and that they take the time to appreciate all the beautiful things each day has to offer. I hope that they continue to dream big dreams, and hold onto hope.
I dream that the children I come to know and love each year have the chance to become all that they want to be, find a job that they love, and never forget the hopes and dreams that they had when they were 6 years old — laughing, dancing and singing in kindergarten. (P.S. I still have a dream, and that includes meeting Mickey Dolenz!)
Debbie Marsh is a first-grade teacher at Easterly Parkway Elementary in State College. She can be reached at email@example.com.