What is the one shift that I can make this school year to create a phenomenal year of learning in my classroom?
Trust and empower students to own their behaviors and their learning!
Trusting relationships are the key to great learning. Make every child feel important! The first twenty days are critical to your success! Kids close down learning when they feel their teacher does not care about them or they are fearful. I do not mean to become their friend, nor do I mean having a weird relationship like we read about in the newspapers. I mean it is important to create a caring respectful relationship. You are your student’s role model and mentor. When kids know they can trust you and that you genuinely care about their well-being, they will open their minds to learning. However, there is usually at least one outlier who may need more than just you to develop an open mind. You may need help from your Principal or counselor or a team of educators to unlock this child’s mind to learning. Fortunately, this is only a limited number of students!
So here is my advice from 37 years in school!
- Entering the classroom on that first day, kids need to feel that this is the greatest place to learn and work! Meet them at the door every morning and welcome them with a “hello” and talk to them about their interests, etc. Tell them how glad you are to see them daily! And close the day on a positive note!
- Find out their strengths and their area (s) they are experts. Create a class chart of this so that students know whom they can go to for help.
- Co-create a classroom mission statement that everyone in the class repeats daily so they can live this mission. Have every child create a personal mission statement for this year. This could be just 4-5 adjectives that they illustrate and energizes them each morning.
- Co-create a classroom code of cooperation together. This becomes a set of actions that everyone agrees to follow so that they have a great year. Have the class sign this poster and review it regularly. Remember respect is an integral part of this code. Remember to teach each action, how it looks, and how it sounds, how it does not look and how it does not sound. When someone does not follow the code you have written together, individually RETEACH! Do not humiliate or offend children. Just reteach so they know how to live together successfully. Reteaching is the key to a positive culture.
- Reinforce your students’ strengths regularly so vividly that they see themselves as learners having great strengths. How many teachers recognized your talents when you were growing up? I wish every child had this type of support.
You are on the road to a fabulous year! Stay tuned for more tips next week.