Make it a Great Day or Not... The Choice is Yours.
The start to the school year means a number of things, and for me that includes a feeling of nervous excitement and anticipation. This feeling has been pretty consistent throughout not only my career, but also as a student. I started to reflect upon which years proved to have more successful starts compared to those in which I struggled to gain footing and feel comfortable. I tried to analyze some of the causes for success versus struggles, and attempt to identify which behaviors and approaches proved to be key indicators and factors for success. I also decided to look up some research on effective transitions to starting a school year. I came up with several factors that will assist us in being successful to start the year.
1. Establish positive relationships with all stakeholders- parents, students, and colleagues. We can’t reach kids without understanding them. “Know me.” Our students want to develop a connection with their teachers and make friends. Commit to facilitating positive relationships with the students and parents. Parents appreciate transparency, and we should be collaborating with them to ensure student success. Don’t forget to collaborate with each other. We have a very talented staff, so let’s take advantage of that. Working hard is great, and working smarter by working together is even better.
2. Be flexible and responsive. “Life happens while we’re busy making other plans.” Of course it is absolutely essential to be prepared and organized as we enter the school year in order to have a chance of meeting all our students’ needs; however, we need to be prepared in such a way that allows for us to be responsive to a variety of needs, many of which will be unforeseen entering the school year. Develop your long-term goals for each individual student. That should not change, but your path to how to get them there may change. Additionally, there is not one learning path that will meet the needs of all of our learners.
3. Recognize and celebrate differences. Children, as well as adults, are influenced by all factors in our lives, such as socioeconomic status, cultural diversity, language backgrounds, family life, disabilities, and other special needs. It is imperative that differences among individuals within our learning community are recognized and valued for the richness they bring.
4. Provide opportunities to produce. We need to create opportunities for our students to thrive. Remember that we teach kids and not curriculum. Our curriculum provides us with a great guide, goals, and means to assess our students. Consider and plan how will you present, support, remediate and extend the opportunities for students to show that they have grasped the concepts presented. Then, it is necessary to decide what to do based on the level of mastery. How will you remediate when students do not understand? How will we create enrichment opportunities for our students when they have demonstrated mastery?
5. Have fun. In my opinion, we have not only one of the most influential, impactful and important professions in the world, it is also one of the most satisfying. Our students will be impacted by the attitude and demeanor that we present each day. Let’s never forget why we entered this profession. Never forget what it is like to see a child’s face light up when they know their number one supporter is you. Our students may hear our words, but they will feel our attitude. Make it a great day or not. The choice is yours.
Have a great day tomorrow!
Back to School Night
Back to school night can be another nerve-wracking event. We get one opportunity with our parents to make a great first impression. Envision Back to School Night as just that- an opportunity. You get the opportunity to comfort parents in the fact that you are in charge of their child’s education, and that you will be the number one advocate for their child while they are entrusting us with the care of their most prized possession. As you work on your back to school night presentations, be sure to present all necessary information about curriculum, homework, field trips, etc., but don’t forget what is most important to the parents. They want to know you will take care of their children as if you were them.
I like Back to School Night. I like the smiles and the hopeful conversations. There will be some fear of what the new year might hold, and our hope and our responsibility is that after the parents talk to us and meet us, some of that fear will melt away. While fears and some anxious feelings are inevitable, Back to School Night is far more often a way to make those parents smile and excited about the school year. It's a way for them to feel confident about you and the time their child spends with you. In fact, a great Back to School Night can really go a long way towards the success of your upcoming school year.
So, think hard about what would make your room friendly, inviting, and informative. Have fun and try to relax. Try a responsive classroom activity with your parents at Back to School Night. Plan a fun team-building type of activity. Have the back to school night that will have your parents leaving with a smile.
Consider these options for BTSN:
# 1. Sign-ins : Be sure to get all of your information to all parents even if they are unable to attend.
# 2. Brochures: Consider designing a brochure so parents don't have to take notes. Include: information about you, where to find the classroom website, the standards covered, materials students need, contact information, classroom slogan, and a few other things.
# 3. Classroom Academic and Behavioral Expectations and Rules: Explain to parents your expectations so that they can support you in their child’s success. It sets the academic and behavioral standards in the classroom, and it becomes a goal-setting document to help make that environment happen.
# 4. Be You. Be Real: You don’t have to read from your slideshow or Google presentation. Have authentic discussions. If you don’t know the answer to some of the questions, don’t worry about it! Tell the parents you will look into it and get back to them.
Good luck with Back to School Night. May all your parents walk away with trust in you and excitement for their child's school year.
Community Picnic 9/2
Spirit Day - Keep Calm and Learn On 9/5
Back to School Night 9/11
4th Grade Strings Kick-off Night 9/16
Staff Development #1 9/17
Race for Education Pre-Kickoff Letter Sent Home 9/17
Picture Day Fall 9/22
Safety Week 9/22-9/26
MAPS Testing Fall Window: opens 9/22
Race for Education Assembly & Kick-off Letter 9/24
Sabold Hearing/Vision Screening 9/25
Summer Literacy Assembly 9/26