It is the beginning of a new school year. There is excitement and some anxiety all rolled into one. How will this year go? Who will be in my class? Is my teacher nice? Will there be a ton of homework? The questions go on and on for both students and parents.
“Meet the Teacher Night” is marked on your calendar. I am guessing your main priority in going to that event is not to find out what your child will be learning. You go so you can find out the personality of your child’s teacher…to get many of those questions you have answered simply by sitting there and observing. It’s not about the content, it’s about who the teacher is.
This journey of formal education is one that has no manual and changes from year to year. You have different teachers with a variety of teaching styles, expectations, and personalities. You have peers in your classroom that have a huge impact on the climate of that classroom. And then there is middle school… need I say more?!?!
Whether you are a family who is embarking on this journey for the first time or your youngest is just starting kindergarten, there are things that 26 years in public education and 20 years as a father have taught me when it comes to education. The number one thing that has benefited my students, families, and my classroom climate is to communicate clearly what the expectations are and to hold everyone accountable for meeting those expectations. I laid out explicitly what I expected from the students, what I expected from the families, and what the students and families should expect from me as their child’s teacher. When I shared expectations on “Meet the Teacher Night”, I always started with the students. Here are some things your child’s teacher and you should expect from your child.
Be the best student you can be! As hard as it is some days, give your very best effort. Take the time to do things right and ask questions if you do not understand something. There are days when kids come to school and haven’t slept well, have a cold, their dog died, or life is just throwing a lot at them. If you come to school, give yourself, your classmates, and your teachers everything you have! Do all of the work assigned to you and do it to the very best of your ability! Take advantage of every learning opportunity, even if it is not your favorite subject.
Be a great classmate to ALL your peers! Look for ways to lend a helping hand to someone…that someone might be a student who doesn’t feel well or whose grandfather just passed away. An encouraging word can go a long way in building up the confidence of a classmate and help them get smarter. Yep, you have the power to help a classmate get smarter… just like you have the power to be disruptive in class and keep the whole class from learning.
Understand that your actions impact the learning of others… positively and negatively. No one can make you learn or do your work. Those are choices you have to make. If you choose not to do your work or participate in the lesson, do not be disruptive and keep others from learning and the teacher from teaching. You do not have the right to keep someone from learning who wants to learn.
Be the best son/daughter and sibling you can be! Be appreciative of all the things your parents give you…unconditional love, encouragement, food, shelter, and clothes. Be grateful for all you have…don’t complain about the things you don’t have. Tell your parents “I love you!” and hug them at least once every single day… tons more would be awesome! Say “please” and “thank you”. Do your fair share around the house. Your parents work hard all day, too…just like you do!
I know I have laid out some high expectations for our kids. Don’t worry kids, I will be sharing expectations for your parents and your teachers as well!
Let me leave you with one last thing… you get out of things what you put into things. Everyone wants to grow up and be successful. That does not just happen when you become an adult. It takes time, work ethic, and persistence. There is no better time to start being successful as a person and a student than right now!
p.s. Parents…your expectations are next!