The start of a new school year is always tough… for teachers, parents, and especially for kids. Transition is never easy and it takes a lot of energy to learn new environments, expectations, routines, and maybe new teachers or peers. Forming relationships and getting to know kids is the real work of September for teachers. And, I mean really getting to know kids, on a level where you know how they think, what they like, and how to connect with them. This time is invaluable in forming a positive relationship with them where they feel safe, confident, and motivated to work for and with you. It’s the foundation of building a nurturing, safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning community. A tall order when you consider the number of kids in a typical general education classroom! And, a taller order, when there are so many other pressures that come with the first month of school!
Some of our students can’t wait to get to know their new teachers and adults in their lives. They make it fun and easy to connect with them. But, we have all encountered those students that for various reasons are harder to get to know, harder to figure out what they are passionate about, harder to understand why they do the things they do, and even harder to discover what sparks some light into motivating them to learn. How do you connect with the hard to connect with student? By becoming an observer of them and making it your mission to figure them out. Why? Because the hard to connect with student probably needs you the most. Watch for clues as to what they like, pay attention to when they smile or their eyes light up, see who they hang out with, and make an effort to try to engage them in different ways. Putting time and effort in at the beginning of the year will pay dividends as the year goes on academically, socially, and behaviorally. There is a saying that often times after years go by, we don’t remember what someone said or what exactly we learned, but we will always remember how someone made us feel. And, you just never know when your actions are going to make all the difference in that one kid’s life….. That is the true power of teaching!