Back To School
Does that send chills of excitement or dread down your spine? Mixed feelings?
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings. Our family is experiencing a lot of change this school year and I am definitely a fan of consistency and routine. The transition from summer to school is never really what I would describe as “smooth.” In the summer we ignore bedtimes, we play outside, we grill outside, my husband and I both work from home in the summer so it is really pretty solid family time. It’s great. Then school starts and we have to start going to bed early, which is SO challenging when it’s still light outside. “The sun is up so I am up!” says my kids… We get up early and then have homework instead of afternoon playing in the treehouse. But we do have routine, which is great.
As a teacher, I usually am completely excited about seeing my students again. In my previous job post, I saw students from 6-12th grade so after a few years, I definitely viewed them as my “kids.” In a lot of ways, I watched them grow up. I’m moving to a new school with kids I have never met. This is exciting in a whole different way. The kids are my favorite part of teaching special education. These students have something very valuable to share with the world, but they are often overlooked because of academic, behavioral or communication challenges. I consider myself blessed to be in the position of getting to know these kids.
Because I am starting in a brand new position with all new students I’ve been thinking back to what I’ve done in the past to get to know students when I remembered this viral activity that a teacher did last year called “What I wish my Teacher Knew”.
I have given public presentations to adults on and off for a few years and you would think that a person who feels completely at home speaking in front of a group of teenagers wouldn’t be nervous in front of adults. but that is not the case. Before my last speech, a friend of mine said “Don’t worry about being yourself. Be who they need instead.” It took me a while to process this, but it is true. They don’t need the me who is worried about my 5 extra pounds I just can’t shake, or the fact that the slightest bit of humidity makes my hair stick to my head and look goofy. In that case, the audience needed an energetic and positive person to watch. The objective was for the audience to feel motivated and inspired. When I digested that, it made so much sense.
How many times, as parents, do we do this? When you had an argument with your colleague and your boss doesn’t understand your opinion and you come home grumpy, you don’t let your kids see “Grumpy mom” because that’s not what they need. They need the mom who listens about their day; the mom who is a supportive listener and encourages them to keep on keeping on, right?!?
Teachers do that too, every day. Think back to when you had that kid who knew every single button to push and was pushing them consistently, just trying to get you to lose your professionalism. (By the way, when students are angry and acting out, it is usually a form of communication and not about you at all, I’m using this situation as an illustration for how you feel.) When the next student comes up to ask you a question about something you JUST explained, you are already at your wits’ end, but you don’t let that shine through to the students. Student 1 needs behavior modification, not an angry teacher. Student 2 likely needs to learn some strategies to stay on task and becoming angry teacher isn’t going to help anyone.
Be who they need.
So when coming into a new classroom situation, find out who they need. Do they need a strict teacher with lots of consistent structure? Do they need a flexible teacher? Do they need a kind, nurturing teacher who serves as a surrogate parent?
Teaching Pedagogy 101 is developing relationships with students. You can spew information at them all day long but if you don’t have a mutually trusting and respectful relationship, you can’t expect to see test scores soar.
I have developed the following activity to help students tell you what they need. In my experience if you ask “What do you need?” You get “nothing,” or in the case of preteens and teens, a shoulder shrug with a barely audible grunt.
I truly want to help new teachers, new to a district or position teachers or teachers who just want to throw in a fresh back to school activity to have a great start to their new year, so I am offering this download for FREE. This will be FREE forever, so be sure to share it on social media with all of your other teacher friends!
Just a little (OK, HUGE, for a classroom teacher) BONUS- Not only will this activity help you to get to know your students, you ALSO have a baseline sample of their beginning of the year writing sample! How fun would it be to do a similar activity for the end of the year? That is also available to download here!
Thank you so much for reading! I would love it if you became part of our community and joined the newsletter!
Until next time,
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
School Bus Color Match Puzzles // Modern Preschool
3 Word Cloud Back to School Puzzles // Lalymom
Back to School Process Art // Still Playing School
Morning Routine Story Stones // Sugar Aunts
Fun Ways to Teach Kids to Pack Their Lunch // Study at Home Mama
Easy, Kid-Made Phone Number Bracelets // Mama. Papa. Bubba.
Back to School Bingo // Playdough to Plato
Back to School I Spy // The Pleasantest Thing
ABC Photo Book // Powerful Mothering
Back to School Puzzles for Counting to 10 // Life Over C’s
Patterns with Erasers // Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Shape Puzzles Busy Bag // Teach Me Mommy
Back to School Name Practice with Playdough // Stay at Home Educator
Back to School File Folder Games // Itsy Bitsy Fun
Back to School Mapping Our Classroom // Liz’s Early Learning Spot
Back to School Teacher Gift // Think Magnet
Free Back to School Memory Book // DIY Farm Wife
Flower Craftivity // Fairy Poppins
Free Alphabet Book // The Kindergarten Connection
Back to School Memory Game // Play and Learn Everyday
DIY Name Stamps // Preschool Inspirations