Monday, December 17, 2012
I would like to share my thoughts about lessons learned from my experience. There were many teachers at my school who didn't know how to connect with their students. They didn't know anything about their students lives outside the classroom. Their focus was on how to get them to be proficient on State Benchmark Tests. In this time of High Stakes Testing and the pressure of making AYP teachers sometimes need to be reminded that we can only do so much with the students we are given each fall. When I began teaching in Alaska someone told me to have a vision of what I wanted my classroom to be. I wanted my classroom to be like a family where there was love, kindness and respect for each other. I wanted my students to feel safe and not be afraid to take risks for fear that someone would make fun of them. I wanted them to know that they could never fail as long as they tried their best. Every success was celebrated and for many they were baby steps.I worked in a Title I school with limited English learners where we had failed to make AYP 4 years in a row. When the bell rang I closed my door and embraced my students and started from where they were academically and scaffold their learning in order to get them to where they needed to be. I took time to listen to their stories and connect with them. I set aside my lunch time a few days a week so they could come and have lunch with me or get extra help. They blossomed and achieved far beyond what I thought was possible.
There is no getting around teaching standards and high stakes tests but don't lose sight of why you became a teacher and your love for your students. Make learning fun and exciting. Make connections by getting to know them. Don't be afraid to let them know that you are human, too. Find ways to make all of them succeed. Try not to listen to all the negative people around you - focus on the positive. Make sure they leave each day with kind words.
Thank you for letting me share my experience with you. It has been very healing for me and I'm ready to move on. Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.