Sierra's View: Teacher, Teacher.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teacher, Teacher.

Thoughts on my future 4th grade classroom.

Um, this actually might be my future actual child. I'd be okay with that. 

I  believe each child is important, that each child can be internally motivated and that they can work with others to succeed. I learned that in my 6th grade class. My teacher, Ms. Misner, made that known through her personal attitudes toward my fellow classmates and me that school year.  I always enjoyed school, but I struggled with some particular subjects. As a kid, for example, doing math frustrated me because it didn’t come natural. Yet, because of my teacher, and her positive example of community, kindness, support, guidance, and help I received, I was able to progress. This positive influence from her and my other class members allowed me to ultimately succeed, amidst the frustration I sometimes felt.  As I plan my future classroom, I am trying to correlate how I felt at some point so that my future students do not feel the same way that I did.
 Once a week, I want to have a sharing time incorporated into a morning meeting where one student brings their favorite book in and can practice reading to the class. This allows for the students to not only practice their fluency skills, but allows them to share something. Once a week, I will also allow the class “MVP” or student of the week to talk about their posters and bring in treats. Most importantly, the purpose of incorporating morning meetings is so that each of my students understands that their thoughts, opinions, and feelings are important.
It sounds cliché and idealistic, but when my students can feel my love, concern, and support for them their success will flow immensely! Great teachers balance high expectations with a safe place to fall. Flexibility, pure love for the students, a positive attitude and consistency are mandatory for a successful classroom. There will be days when I do not want to be there. There will be days when I do not want to get out of my car and step into my classroom, but I have to leave everything that is happening internally and externally outside of the classroom in that car and use that consistency to make it through the day. 
My goal is to be uplifting. How can a parent argue with me if I am letting them know that I am on their child's team? That I am trying to understand their perspective? After all, I am working for the parents, right? Here's the reality: you cannot get higher than a parent's child. 
It is important for my students to have internal motivation. The whole idea of having a strong community is that I want my students to act without prompting. I want teamwork and camaraderie to be who they are and how they choose to behave, not something foisted upon them by me.  I want my students to feel and iterate the concepts of confidence, enjoyment, enthusiasm, and value so that the students feel worthwhile.  School can be quite rewarding. Allowing the students to feel confident in their abilities is a battle in itself. School also, can, at times, require a lot of hard work, but more importantly, the students need to have a basic core of confidence in themselves--that they are capable of figuring the answer to a problem by themselves. Enthusiasm, on my part, is mandatory for the kids to truly enjoy themselves and to learn. If enthusiasm isn’t incorporated into the learning process, the process becomes mundane, boring, and the students are far less likely to learn. Flexibility and rich understanding are also important aspects to include when analyzing the community that I want present in my classroom. Having my students be able to communicate (whether that’s in writing, speaking or listening) their answers and steps with one another is not only important in the education system, but in life in general. It is important for the students to understand topics through class discussions.  
I want to be able to have my students be able to work together through teamwork. Growing up, I always played sports. I have learned that my basic core of hard work and learning to deal with others stemmed from my experience in sports--when I had to learn to work with others who played a little differently or thought differently than I did. This does not mean that the individuals in my classroom are no longer important; however, it does mean that effective and efficient teamwork goes beyond individual accomplishments. The most effective teamwork is produced when all the individuals involved harmonize their contributions and work towards a common goal. Having a common goal with the other students and as a whole group allows for individuals to succeed. Physically, for my classroom environment, I will have the students in table groups to help boost this teamwork idea. Each week there will be a “team captain” where one student can help be “in charge” but this will allow the students to practice their teamwork skills when given group assignments. I want to have our class creed up on the walls with quotes regarding teamwork, internal motivation and confidence.
I recently have been listening to some public speakers throughout the area who are involved heavily in education. One lady said, "I have never met a student that I didn't like." How true is this? There have been behaviors that I don't like from kids, but I promised myself, right then and there, that I will never dislike a child's spirit or personality., I breathe. Haha.

I write this to all of you to gain some perspective. What do you think of this? Some of you wonderful followers are parents. Some of you are teachers. Some of you are just really smart. Ha. 
What is your initial response? Any advice or extra thoughts on this matter? (be kind please!)


  1. Loved reading this! I'm convinced that teaching 4th grade is the best!
    I cannot believe I'm going into my 3rd year. I remember these feelings. I love how you want to make a positive classroom community. That is huge. My first year, it was easy. People were nice to each other, my students were friends. You can imagine my disappointment this last year when my students did not like each other, wrote each other mean notes and called each other names. I felt like a failure because I couldn't do anything and I had literally exhausted all my options. I'd like to say at the end of the year I had a success story, however I did not. But I worked my tail off, that's for sure. Unfortunately sometimes the students combined in your classroom just create the perfect storm. On that note, my advice would be to have a good attitude. Even if several of the students are making life "misreable," give them a fresh start everday. It will make you feel better and it helps them too. After all, they are 9 years old. Expect things of them, but you must be very very forgiving. I have learned to get "over" things in 1/2 a second. Modeling forgiveness, but respect is probably the best way to teach a classroom community. All eyes are on you all of the time. You will make mistakes and they will alllll notice them, but they also watch how you handle them. Laugh at yourself even when you feel like crying. Tell them your feelings were hurt when they were disrespectful. Tell them you need to take a moment if you're disappointed in their behavior. Tell them you're proud of them. Love them, always.
    A big shock to me is parents. I am not a parent, so I do not understand their side, but I am always very surprised to find the parents that seem to not care despite all the tons of hours and effort on your part, but be careful about getting into that trap! All parents care! Even the ones who do not respond to one email, phone call, note, etc throughout the entire year. They can be busy and I've had to learn to not judge, although it can be disappointing.
    The very very best thing I've done with parents is contact each of them twice a month about something GOOD their child has done. This is an easy thing to do that builds a great relationship between you and them. Then, when you DO have to talk to them about something their child has done wrong, they don't feel like you're being attacked. (I just made a spreadsheet with months of the school year to keep track that each child's parent had been contacted twice.)
    I am still learning each day. The best quality in a teacher is to be teachable and humble, you will get wayyyy more out of it if you focus on this.
    You'll be great! Can't wait to see and hear about your year :)

  2. this sounds good. the hardest part is implementing it in actual practice with actual kids who have actual serious problems who are hell bent to ruin your community. one advantage to el. ed. is that you have a class, instead of my 200 students. i think palmer's first grade teacher did a phenomenal job of creating a community. when i talked to her about it, she had some of the same points you brought up. see the child for who they are, not their problems or family or learning challenges. assume the best of your students and trust them to act on that expectation.

    honestly, the hardest part of being a teacher is the adults. between administrators, other teachers, and parents, the baggage and politics of teaching is frustrating. but you will never go wrong following your heart and loving those kids. when the adults see that your heart is in the right place and you know your stuff (legal stuff, education stuff, kid stuff), they will go to bat for you. Even when you have to have the hard conversations with parents and administration, you can still keep this perspective. teaching is HARD! it kicked my trash every day, even when i loved it and knew i was where i was supposed to be. it's emotionally draining and life-sucking. but at the end of the day, the kids are what keep you coming back for more! you'll do a great job. just trust your gut and know your stuff (especially all the legal stuff).

  3. Girl I love this! It's very inspirational. I like that quote that she liked every student she ever taught. It's hard sometimes, but I think attitude does make all the difference. This last year was my first, and I had these big idealistic dreams. It's easy to forget them when November rolls around and you are burned out. Bookmark this blog post because you'll love reading it as a reminder of why you love teaching and what you really want. :) I'm excited to hear your stories and successes for this upcoming school year!

  4. Can I come Be in your classroom?? :)


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