Great Expectations…Teachers, it’s go-time! (Part 3 of 3)

We can all do it, no matter how long it has been since we were in school. Think about some of the most amazing teachers you have had over the years. In the Fall of 1979, I stepped into Mrs. Habeggar’s first-grade classroom. There is so much I remember about that class and none of it has to do with the content she taught me. I am sure she taught me well because I can read, write, and do math effectively. Mrs. Habeggar taught ME. She used the content, the state standards as the vehicle to teach ME.

Great teachers, no matter what age or content area they are teaching, can ignite an inferno of excitement, passion, and desire for a child to learn and become whatever they want to become. There are kids who are horrible at or do not like a particular class…math, history, reading, etc…but the teacher is amazing, and the kids learn so much! There are kids who love it and are extremely interested in a particular class…math, history, reading, etc…but the teacher is not a good teacher, and the child’s passion for that subject diminishes. Being a teacher is an amazing opportunity to shape the lives of kids and families for the rest of the child’s life! That is a HUGE responsibility when you stop and think about it.

When I think about the amazing teachers and coaches I have had over the years and the fabulous teachers I have worked with, there are some qualities that each of them has in common. Here are some that really stand out to me.

  • Love your kids… ALL of them! Ask any teacher if they love kids. Every teacher will answer “yes” because that is the right answer. The reality of it is that not all teachers genuinely love their students. Kids are extremely perceptive, and they know if you are genuine or not. As a teacher, your actions must support what you are telling the kids. The sad reality is that you may be the only stable adult in a child’s life. They are going to push you and test you to see if you really do love them or if you are just like the other adults in their life who say they do but don’t. There is nothing more important in teaching than your kids. Relationships matter when you teach others. Create a positive culture of respect in your classroom but model what you expect. Kids are always watching you way more than they are listening to you. You have complete control of only one thing in your classroom…and that is you!

  • Take the time to invest in your kids! Get to know your kids on a personal level. Ask them how their game went or how dance practice went. If a student is struggling to make good choices or being a frequent disruption in class, take time with that student to see what is going on. Flying off the handle and just expecting them to change because you yelled at them or gave them detention is not going to happen. Earn and build trust. Explain to them why what they are doing is wrong and why there is a consequence for their actions. They may not like the consequence you gave them or you, for that matter, but they will ALWAYS remember how you took time for them.

  • Communicate with parents frequently and honestly! Parents want to know what is going on with their child while they are at school both academically and behaviorally. Communicate with them so you can both be on the same page at home and at school so there is consistency in the child’s life. If there is a disagreement, respectfully share what the school consequence is going to be and ask for their support. The majority of the parents will have your back.

  • Apologize when you mess up! You are a human being who loves your kids. Teaching is an emotionally demanding calling. You are going to make mistakes…snap at a student when you shouldn’t, put the wrong grade in the grade book, just have a bad day. It is going to happen. Take the time to apologize. If you snapped at a child who did not deserve it in front of the whole class, apologize to that student in front of the whole class…and call the parents to apologize to them as well. What an awesome example you are setting for your kids and families!

  • Have some fun! Again, it is not about the content…it’s about the kids! Don’t be afraid to have your kids stand on their chairs for an activity. If the kids are working quietly, throw on some music and have a 30-second dance party before getting back to work. Be creative in your lesson delivery and give kids an opportunity to work with others. We learn better when we love what we are learning and who we are learning it from! That is not a scientific statement…that is just experience.

Know your WHY! Your why should not be your content or standardized test results. Your why should be what is in the best interest of your kids and families whom you are serving. You will face opposition from kids, parents, colleagues, administrators. Loving kids every day is hard…but that is why you are there! Be “THAT” teacher for your kids!!

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