S'More From the AP

Week Ending December 11, 2015

YOU Make The Difference! By Dana Ranne

Our actions, as educators, have an effect on our students every minute of every day. Each time we step in front of our classes, we have the responsibility and duty to approach our teaching with integrity.

I’ve come to an almost frightening conclusion: it’s my personal approach that creates the climate in the classroom. I am the decisive element in the room and it is my daily mood that makes the “weather.” I possess tremendous power to make a life joyous or not. I can be an instrument of inspiration or discouragement; humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized.

Teachers have a tremendous responsibility to set the climate and the tone of the classroom. Though difficult on our part, it’s also our responsibility to not allow personal feelings, upsets, defeats and disappointments to affect our relationship with our students. We should look at each day and approach it with the same excitement as if it were the beginning of our teaching career!

We are educators because we possess a passion for what we do. One of my favorite quotes from Ginott is, “Children are like wet cement; whatever falls on them makes an impression!” Our actions and words have more influence on a student than you may ever know! How about the thank you note or letter from a former student you have stashed away in a drawer? That one note or letter represents many other students who just simply didn’t take the time to write.

As we soon begin a new semester, be sure to open the heart and minds of your class each day. Be the person to inspire and encourage; give the students positive reinforcement.

Remember, You make the difference!

The Principal Ponders

With each new S’more, one word keeps resonating in my head – relationships. Is it ironic that, at the beginning of the year, this is an area we agreed was so important to student learning? I think not STARS! We’ve always known the impact the student/teacher relationship can have on a child’s learning experience; however, when we force ourselves to stop and thoughtfully reflect on our everyday interactions with students, it becomes much more meaningful.

When Traci and I were in Chicago at the “What Great Educators Do Differently” conference, we had the opportunity to hear Jeff Zoul and Todd Whitaker speak. These 2 men exude positivity and can talk about the power of relationships for days. One of the things I took away from their session was a slide from their presentation. Nothing fancy, no bells and whistles, just your typical Google Slides project. It began with, “10 Days Out of 10…..,” but it was what followed that has stuck with me…. “Treat Every Student With Respect and Dignity – Every Day, All the Time.” Then it said, “How Many Days Out of 10 Do YOU Want?”

Well, of course we all say 10, but if we thoughtfully reflect, does this always happen? And not just with students – parents? Your colleagues? Heck, your spouse or kids? J In their book, 4 Core Factors for School Success, Zoul & Whitaker explain that even if we manage to accomplish this 90% of the time, it will be the 10% of the time that we failed that is remembered. Wow…..can we afford that? I think not STARS!

As Dana mentioned, our actions and words have a tremendous influence on our students – we may never really know exactly how much. Which leads me to the last item from Zoul & Whitaker’s presentation. It said:

“You Don’t Have to Like the Students, You Just Have To Act Like You Like the Students.”

Every teacher knows that from time to time, a student strolls through the door with whom she knows she will never “click” and with whom building a relationship feels like a second job. However, in situations such as this, do we just stop trying? I think not STARS! We have to figure out a way to “Like” that student, even it it’s only for the 6 hours a day we are with them. To steal from Dana, we have the opportunity to inspire or discourage, humiliate or humor, hurt or heal –each and every day with each and every person we encounter, not just our students. So, I leave you with this question……

How Many Days Out of 10 Do You Want?

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