Sunday, November 1, 2015

Best Year Yet

Another school year is going by quickly. As in any profession it is always important that we take time to pause and reflect. The beginning of the school year is a blur, but one comment that was shared stands out. Make this the "Best Year Yet"!

As I sit here and think what does "Best Year Yet" mean, I know there have been a lot of important lessons I have learned over the last thirty years in my education profession. Some great, others not so good. The most important lesson I have learned is that it is all about my students who count on me to make a difference! 

My fourth grade team is currently participating in +Pernille Ripp's Global Read Aloud. We have made connections with other classrooms from around the country.  Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is an inspirational book for young and old alike. How can we make a difference in each child's life?  We have expectations for our students. What if we turn the table. What do they expect from us?

As I read this book with my students and Lynda Mullaly Hunt reads some of the chapters to our class, it has made me think what is truly most important to our students. Two other books that tie in with the same theme that we have read and love are The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patricia Polacco's Thank You, Mr. Falker.

Albert Einstein

As I think about what is most important to our students, I realize it is some of the same things teachers love to see from administrators.

Robert Brault
This is an area I was terrible at over the years, but so important to our students. This took me a long time to learn. I was so consumed and worried about the curriculum that I found myself nodding and saying "yes" a lot.  Over the years I have learned the importance of "truly" listening to what is important to each student in my classroom.  Yes, sometimes that means putting the curriculum aside.  After attending a district ed camp weeks ago, a colleague of mine, Katie Herbert, shared a fantastic idea that I recently started to use each week.  She has "Weekend Highlights" each Monday. My fourth graders love to begin the week by sharing.  As adults we love it when others listen to us we talk, so do our students. 

Make Learning Meaningful and Relevant
Albert Einstein
Our students are growing up in a world totally different from when we were in school.  They love connecting globally and having an authentic audience. When students have a voice and choice to share their thinking, learning becomes relevant and students are engaged. Our students love teaching others and are our best teachers. Each child has different talents and abilities. They need us to help them tap into their creativity and passions. 

Author Unknown
It is so important to our students that we greet them at the door each morning. Make it a practice to let them know you missed them if they have been absent. Students need to believe that they matter! Just like us, they have rough days and a lot going on in their personal lives. Never underestimate the positive impact a handwritten note. It can make a huge impact in student's life. Who doesn't appreciate a word of thanks, praise, or I understand what you're going through! So important we celebrate differences.

Mother Teresa
Recently I received an email from a parent telling me how much her son loves coming to school.  What stood out the most was when she shared that her child is happy because I smile at him. What a powerful statement and a great reminder.

Lady Bird Johnson
Students need/want us to believe in them, even when they don't believe in themselves. A few words of encouragement can make all the difference in the world. Students want us to encourage them when things get tough and they struggle. 

Advocate and be a Cheerleader
Magic Johnson
Our students are like our own children when they are in our classrooms.  They want us to be their loudest cheerleader and advocate for what is best for their well being and education. It is great to watch them become advocates and cheerleaders for their classmates and peers. Our students need to feel that they are important and valued.

Accept Only the Best
Og Mandino
Students know when they turn in work/projects that are not their best. Pride shines and sparkles in their eyes when they turn in their best work even if it has to be redone. When clear expectations are set and students are held accountable, they know we won't accept anything but their very best. 

Have High Expectations 
Walt Disney
Our students want us to believe that they are capable and smart. They want to excel when they have people who believe in their full potential. It is important they have adults who believe they will make a difference in the world.

Empathy, Respect, and Trust
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Just like we expect our administrators to build a community that models empathy, respect, and trust, so do our students. They watch and model what they see us doing. When students trust us they feel safe in our classrooms.  Understanding our students and showing empathy makes a positive impact in any classroom.

Charlie Chaplin
The mood of the classroom is a key component of successful learning environment. Laughter is the best medicine for all! The best days are when we can laugh together as a team. 

Have Fun

When we teach with enthusiasm and passion it is contagious.  Student have fun learning when we enjoy teaching!

A perfect quote by Justin Tarte  to end the post on the "Best Year Yet". @justintarte

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