Being a 5th Grade Teacher is bittersweet. Memories from the last few days of school are still so vivid in my mind – 5th Grade Promotion (and the amazing video slideshow by Hannah!), our 5th Grade Picnic, the end of the year assembly, and tear-filled eyes as students paraded through the hallways of Sully for the last time. The Capital Cities song “Safe and Sound” is jumping out in my head, because in these final moments that is how our kids felt about Sully. Walking out of those doors was walking away from that “safe and sound” place where everyone knows them and they “know” themselves. I don’t know what will come next for my amazing group of students as they begin their next adventure, so it was my task to be the one to make an impact in their last year of elementary school.
Be the One Who Creates Community
5th Graders have baggage and they think they have school all figured out! They know their classmates – the troublemaker, the brain, the class clown and they have already picked their friends. They have also developed strong opinions about themselves as a student – “Reading is my thing”…”I suck at Math”…”Science is boring”… and so on. How do we, as teachers, break down the walls that this fixed mindset build and promote a growth mindset in our students? For me, one way was making sure that our classroom community was as strong as it could be. If students feel safe and sound, then they will take risks. If students know perfection isn’t the end goal, then they’ll try it without fear of messing up. If students know that they should always be themselves (including their teacher who might just break into song at any moment) then they will know it’s okay to let their true personality shine. If students know that learning is awesome, then hopefully they will leave the walls of Sully and carry the spark of lifelong learning with them!
As we get closer to a new school year beginning, I still hold onto last year’s ending. Hugging countless students with tears in their eyes as they closed a chapter made me sad that I can’t continue the journey with them, but hopeful that memories of our time together will be the ones to encourage them moving forward.
I am inspired to be the one that creates a strong classroom community with the next group of students I meet! Anyone have great beginning of the year community builder ideas?