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?
Be The One For Kids is a powerful reminder to do what’s right each day to help our kids succeed academically as well as in life. The author does a wonderful job refreshing the ideals I try to bring into my life everyday, and the way he relates these ideals to our profession is inspiring. After reading the book, there are many ideas I want to challenge myself to bring into my teaching style and everyday life this year. Some of these ideas include:
1- It’s okay to fail. We hear this over and over again, but how do we teach this concept to kids? I know for myself, I have been working on going outside my comfort zone more, but I am really inspired to carry this over into my teaching practice, especially as an SLP where every student I see has a significant difficulty in one or more areas of communication. Trying new things puts us in a position where it is possible to fail and ultimately makes us vulnerable. I want to not only talk to my students about this, but I also want to put myself in positions where they can learn not only from my words, but also from how I handle potential failure. “It’s not only okay to fail- you need to fail harder!”
2- “Be the one who reflects.” This is something I struggle to give enough time too, but if I am going to be challenging myself to try new things with my students then I also need to push myself to reflect on those that work or do not work, and how I can make them better.
3- “Be the one who asks for feedback.” In my position, collaborating with others is a daily task, but I want to push myself to receive feedback from those I work with to ultimately be better for my students.
Going into the education field, I think we all are aware of the impact we can have on kids, but just how much do they pick up on? I’ve never taken the time to really think about this question until now.
I like how Be The ONE For Kids discusses the little things we can do each day with minimal effort that can completely change the impact we have on our kiddos as well as the school’s environment. For example, simply smiling at those we pass in the hallway or celebrating our students’ successes with high fives. These little moments could be the highlight of someone’s day without us even realizing it, and all it takes is a conscious effort to acknowledge another. I find that I don’t create these positive moments as often when I’m stressed or frustrated, but by increasing my self awareness to this, I think it will not only improve my classroom environment but also my relationships with my students.
How else can we intentionally and routinely bring positivity into our practice, making Sully an exciting place to be for everyone?