Each day I walk into my school filled with joy because I know today is the day I build a deeper relationship with my students. Today is the day my students teach me how to be a better person. It starts with the teacher, but over time the students take over.
In my classroom each year I build a family. I put relationships first because I know if a child does not feel loved and appreciated in the classroom, I can teach little. My students know they matter.This all starts with the building of relationships.
Each day I walk in the classroom I work hard to create lessons that are impactful, hands on, meaningful, and fun. But more importantly I walk in my classroom with the thought, "How am I going to build relationships with my students today?"
It is up to me each day to make sure each one of my students feels noticed, heard, and loved. I thought about a few simple things I do specifically each day with my students to make this happen.
Each day I greet my students at the door with a hug, a hand shake, or a high five. I make sure as they come into the room I greet them by using their name. I want them to feel noticed from the moment they walk into the door or even down the hall. I know by using their name, looking them in the eyes, and saying good morning that I can show they matter.
Throughout the day I make sure to use their names as often as possible. Our own names are magical to our ears, everyone wants to hear their name, so I make sure to use their names often. I use them when I call on the students or when I pull them to the side. I use them during our daily morning greeting, and I use their names before they leave the room. It takes time to do this,but it's worth it.
The question I ask myself is, How can I make sure my students are seen in my classroom?
It's so important that we take the time to listen to our students. As our students walk through our doors they have so much to say. It is easy to tell them to go unpack and do their morning work, but listening to them is a part of our morning work.
I make sure that our morning work is extremely light (journals or technology), so I can take the time to listen to them each morning. This light morning work also allows time for the students to communicate with each other. I try to think about my own professional development, it always starts with some time for fellowship.
During the morning we take time to have a morning meeting each day. One of the parts of our meeting is a share time. I call on 3-5 students a day to share. They share anything they want from their heart. They then call on students to ask questions. By having a share time in the class the students see they have a voice and their voice matters. We learn so much about each other by hearing their stories.
It was through this share time that my students found out about a student's cousin in the hospital. The students created bracelets that we tied on the kids book bags. We made a pact to not remove them until the cousin was out of the hospital. The day she got out we had a huge celebration. We cut the bracelets off the book bags and tied them together to make one big necklace. We then sent it home for a keepsake for the family. It was through this share time that this happened. This has forever changed our classroom's share time.
It is important no matter what age we teach that we take some time in our busy day to hear from each one of our students.
I have found over my 12 years of teaching that eating lunch with my students as often as possible is another way to the heart of the child. The bond that happens during lunch is priceless. Students are more comfortable to talk to you about anything during this time because it is not academic. We as adults know everything is better with food. It is the same for our students. My goal is to eat lunch with my students 3-4 times a week. I take time each week to eat with the whole class, but my students can also earn tickets to eat lunch with me and a friend at the parent table.
Lunch is when I find out the most vital information from my students, things I needed to know, but would not have found out had I not taken the time to sit and break bread with them.
The question I ask myself is, How can I take time in the day to hear my student's voices?
As I get to know my students and their interests. I make sure to include this through the academics. As children tell me about their love of Minecraft or Angry Birds I find ways to include their interests in our lessons. When I teach patterns we use Minecraft to create games boards and make pattern towers that Angry Birds knock down. If my students love a certain character I print them off and hand them out when they are working hard. I use their interests to help me create my lessons.
I tell the whole class who inspired these lessons, so they know they have a voice in the ways our standards are taught. I want my students to know I listen to them. They make changes happen in our classroom because of their voice. We can empower our kids each day by helping them feel included in our lessons.Over time they will become more confident, motivated, and joyful as they work.
The question I ask myself is, How can I include my student's interests in my lessons?
Over the years I have seen what has been taught academically is important, but I have seen that it is the relationship piece that must come first in order to empower our students to be their best.
We must come into each day with the mind frame that it is More Than A Lesson. If we put relationships first the growth that is achieved is unbelievable. But isn't that why we went into this profession? Helping kids believe that anything is possible!
Thank you to the following people who have inspired me to write my first blog post. They have empowered me to use my voice:
Mike Stanton @micronmike, Teresa Gross @teresagross625, Oskar Cymerman @focus2achieve, Greg Smedley @kindersmorgie, Jon Harper @jonharper70bd, Melissa Chouinard @chouinardjahant, Blair Smith @mrsmiths56class, Sean Farnum @magicpantsjones, Dave Burgess @burgessdave, Sean Thom @seanathom, and Chris Quinn @chrisquinn64