20 years have passed and many experiences have molded the teacher I am today. I am still being formed each year – always something new to gain and share. Just wanted to share 5 things that may make your experience even better
1. Laugh – find ways to laugh each day in your classroom. So much of what our students face when they leave our doors is out of our hands. Greet them at the door each day (Harry Wong had this right!) – look them in the eyes when you speak to them, smile and let them know they matter, acknowledge each student, each day calling them by name and inviting them into the conversations and classroom discussions. Give them a safe place to learn but also laugh and smile while there. Model being kind. Model hard work. Model a passion for learning. And laugh along with them.
2. Play. Find ways to let them explore the math on their own. My child was inquisitive and curious and constantly wanting to know things. Somewhere along the way, she lost this glimmer in her eye. She sees school as something boring and contrived rather than a place she gets to pursue her passions. Let students notice and wonder. Listen to their ideas. Encourage them to ask more questions. The best way to help them learn to play with their math, is to play with it yourself. Sit down, struggle with some problems, figure them out.
3. Learn. Build a professional network. Find a colleague who shares your goals, who will challenge you and encourage you. There’s this online community called #MTBoS who will push you to grow, a place you can openly be a lifelong learner without weird stares and crumpled faces looking across the table, making you feel like you don’t belong when you ask an outlandish questions or ideas you want to develop. But there are people in your school community – patiently gauge the waters and you will find them. Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. Set goals and ask for accountability.
4. Reach out. The support staff in your school can sometimes be overlooked. Often times they deal with many things so we don’t have to. Acknowledge them, let them know how much their hard work has helped you, your classroom and your school. They are often difference makers for me on a daily basis. Just this summer as I began moving into my “new” room – my daughter asked why our floors were so shiny and how she wondered why the floors in her old school weren’t the same. She went on to say how they looked new and clean. People notice those small things. We often just take them for granted. Make sure your support staff know how grateful you are for them. Maybe your faculty could provide a potluck or send them to lunch one day just to say thank you.
5. Personal time. Take time for yourself and your family. Mark your calendar for activities to enjoy together with family and friends. Do things that make you laugh, make memories, do things that challenge you so you can share those experiences with your students. Pursue a hobby. Read. Make health-wise choices. Exercise. Get plenty of sleep so you can be your best for your students.
What you do matters.
Have an amazing year!