Tuesday, August 22, 2017

3 Back to School Rules that will Change the Way You Start Your Year



I can almost smell the optimism when I set-up my classroom each year.  There is something magical about a room that is completely free of missing homework assignments, looming test dates and cold and flu germs.  None of those things are going to happen this year. Not in this room.

This room will be filled with cooperative, highly-motivated students, three-dimensional science experiences and innovative teaching strategies.  How do I know?  Well, for starters my plan book is a color-coded masterpiece and I have an amazing Growth Mindset bulletin board.  Oh, and my book shelves look  A-MAZ-ING!

This is how I feel.  Every. Single. Year.

I'm pretty sure my 6th graders would be just fine with last year's bulletin boards, but somehow I think that by reorganizing and redecorating I'm sending a message to myself and my students that this year is going to be EVEN better than last.

Before kids I would to spend countless (unpaid) hours in my classroom before school started.  I still put my fair share in these days, but things have changed a bit since my boys were born.  As a parent, I realize that saying yes to one thing means saying no to another.  Being an excellent teacher is right up there on the list with being an excellent mom, so in order to do both I've had to adapt! Being a teacher-mom means being insanely efficient from the moment I step foot in my classroom.  Which...is really, REALLY hard.  Have you seen the adorable lime green plastic bins in the Dollar Spot at Target? Stay...Focused!


Here are 3 Rules I have for Back to School:


1) PLAN first PLAY later
Bulletin boards and room organization are fun, but you will feel a lot better about your first month back if your lesson plans are well-designed.  Flexible seating looks great, but it won't fix behavior issues as well as a lesson plan that has EVERY student engaged.  Your school district didn't hire you because of your decorating skills....right? 



2) Build Relationships
Teachers work in isolation much of the time.  Bring coffee to the new teacher across the hall.  Offer to pick up another teacher's copies.  Ask the cleaning staff about their kids and the secretary about her mom's surgery.  Stop and talk to parents and kids who wander the halls.  Networking and collaborating with teachers and support staff can have long-lasting benefits. (Or you could lock yourself in your room and label all those new markers...your choice.)  No! Get out of your classroom.  Radiate positive vibes and they will come right back at you....All Year Long.





3) Let it Go

Ask yourself "Will this REALLY help my students learn?" If the answer is NO, then don't feel bad about heading home at the end of the day and not getting it done.  So, maybe the tattered bin labels from last year will have ONE more GO.  Nobody ever said on their death bed "I wish my classroom was more stylish." Go to your son's baseball game, last summer swim lesson or just get home before dark so that you can be there for bedtime stories.  You'll be glad you did.

After a tough week last school year, a dear friend said this to me:  "You know what makes good mom? A good teacher.  You know what makes a good teacher? A good mom."

Balancing this teacher-mom life is not easy.  I'm pretty sure I'll be going a little crazy by October, but looking at my empty classroom today...well...I'm pretty optimistic.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for these encouraging words, especially number 1. I am trying to adopt this mentality this year and your words just sealed the fact that I do not have to feel guilty about the little unimportant things.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You hit the nail on the head. I find that I'm most happy when both (home & school) are running smoothly. It is about finding balance and saying "no" which was very hard to do!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for the common sense reminders about what is really important in this job. At the end of June a graduating high school student came to see me. I teach kindergarten and was exhausted and bogged down by all the new curriculum expectations and new reporting model and really feeling overwhelmed. She came with her mom to thank me and tell me I was still her favourite teacher after at the end of her schooling. It really made me realize that, teaching is really about the relationships we establish with our students and teaching them kindness and confidence in themselves. If they leave school with a smile on their face (most days, anyway) then you know you are doing something right! Have a wonderful year.
    Sincerely,
    Michele White

    ReplyDelete

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