To help encourage conversations about the relationships we establish throughout the year with our students, the topic/question for the dinner table is: How often do you remember these sentiments before writing to/speaking to the children: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou) To help push us a bit deeper, here is an anonymous self-evaluation Google Form to consider...Self-Evaluation Question.
After a very hot and busy four days of school, hopefully everyone was able to take a step back and reflect upon the great energy that was in the building as we got in the swing of things for the 15-16 school year. Our weekend was certainly full with the kids - birthday parties, softball, soccer, flag football, and celebrating Grayden's 6th birthday with some of his friends by seeing Minions. It is hard to believe that Grayden is six and in Kindergarten!
One of my continued personal goals/struggles is to find an appropriate balance between home and work. With all of the wonder and opportunities that technology brings to our lives and work, it has made it increasingly difficult to carve out time for my family and myself- I know I contribute to this and am working on it as well. I do love the work and am deeply passionate about our students, school, and community, but it is important for me to try and do my best to truly separate. After a very busy week, with two parent nights for Blake and one for Owen in Holliston, and the week ahead with three more nights out (Grayden's, Maggie's, and our 6th grade PIN at Blake), I have been reflecting on what is truly important at the outset of the school year. We will be taking time as a staff at our faculty meeting this week discussing and sharing how we lay the foundation for learning with our students in our own environs. At the heart of this work is the beginning stages of establishing meaningful relationships with our students and one another. As an educator, I want our parents to know that we care deeply about their children, and on the flip side, as a parent I am hoping to hear and see evidence of the same. If that care, compassion, and understanding is in place, the opportunities for learning will not only exist, but grow.
With the effort to try and find some balance in mind, I am trying to keep it on the brief(er!) side this week by sharing some posts that underline the importance of relationships and communication in our work with students (as well as a resource to keep in mind that may be prove helpful for our parents)...
Dear Student: I Don't Expect You to Be Perfect
by Kylie Redford in Education Week Teacher
I enjoyed Redford's honesty in this post as she acknowledges that our efforts sometimes do not pan out in a positive fashion. It made me reflect about what my 'Dear Student' letter would look like, and I particularly like the notion of finding out what 'gets our students up in the morning' (dreams inside and outside of school).
Teaching is complex. We try hard to get it right, but sometimes we fail. Even with more than twenty-five years of teaching experience, I still have blindspots. I hope that my students know that I am not judging their potential by their spelling or speed, or confusing their school struggles with lack of effort...Often, I need my students' feedback to help me determine how to best meet their learning needs.
I am interested to learn what other teachers do at the launch of the year to establish a culture that invites self-advocacy and reassures students that their classroom is a shame-free zone.
Dear Teacher: I Want You to Know What You Mean to My Shy Child
by Mike Reynolds in Huffington Post Education
It is always important to hear the perspectives of parents and to remember the impact we can have on each student.
I really just want you to know what I hope you already know -- that you make an immense impact on the person my child is growing up to be. And she notices that. And so do we.
We'll likely acknowledge this with coffee gift cards and smiley faces in thank-you notes, but that's because we don't know any other way to show how we feel. And I think most of all, it's important to let you know that the one thing she consistently tells us she wants to be when she grows up is a teacher.
Every Single Kid
post by Krissy Venosdale
Venosdale encourages us (and pushes us) to find the 'message' that each student brings to school, and to foster that message. It is a noble goal, and one worthy of all of our time and efforts.
Can we honestly say that we’ve honored every kid in every school for exactly who they are? I’m not talking about a gold star or a blue ribbon. I’m talking about the kind of honor where we help them believe in what they can become. Until we can all answer “Yes,” with total confidence, in every school, in every corner of the world, we have work to do. And it’s probably one of the most important jobs in the world, maybe one of the hardest, but it’s definitely the most rewarding.
5 Back-to-School Cell Phone Rules for Kids
Post by Caroline Knorr from Common Sense Media
Knorr's post encourages 'responsible use' with technology and provides a simpler structure for establishing guidelines for our children with technology - the principles can apply to mobile phones and devices.
Keeping all of this in mind as we look ahead to the year, I keep coming back to the words of Dennis Van Roekel that I share with staff and parents at the beginning of each year...
I remember watching my two little boys when they were young, going to school, and thinking: Gosh, I’m giving the adults in that site the two most important things in my life. Any parent who sends a child to school gives teachers the most precious thing in their life, their children, and we ought to respect and honor that profession.
-- Dennis Van Roekel, NEA
We are so very fortunate to be given the chance each day to teach, work with, and learn from our students. We are given a trust each day and the relationships we have and form with students, parents, and one another do indeed matter.
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