Now its not because I don’t have a lot to say, because anyone who knows me knows that at times I have too much to say. My thoughts can’t always keep up with what I am saying!
Through all my attempts at my February Blogamonth post, one theme kept surfacing to the top, one common word – Relationships. At the end of the day, all that matters in my classroom is the relationship I have with the students on any given day throughout the year. When the relationship is strong, everything else seems to fall into place.
Over Christmas, my mother-in-law and I were chatting. She was trained as a K teacher in the 60’s in Australia. During our discussion, she mentioned that in Teacher College, it was stressed that you need to use your strengths your own teaching. Each person has different strengths, and that what sets you apart is when you use your strengths in a positive, engaging way. Now she has not taught elementary school since the 70’s, so she is not immersed in a 21Century classroom, yet her words are so relevant and so important. Amidst all the changes in curriculum, perspective, and as the pendulum swings so to speak, those teachers who maintain a positive learning culture in their room, I believe, stay true to this idea. Teach as yourself, not as others expect you to.
Two years ago, my job share partner and I had a 23-year-old male student teacher. He was a fantastic, energetic guy with a lot of potential. I remember at the half way point saying to him that he needed to stop teaching like a middle aged woman with two kids and start being himself. He didn’t need to be us, what he needed to do was bring his own personality to his teaching. We encouraged him to bring in his guitar, to sing for the kids, to be his 23 year old man self! The relationship and mutual respect between him and the students grew from this point on. My point being that he had checked off all the necessary relationship building activities he was given on a checklist from university, but had not yet done it as his own self.
I have job shared for the past 3 years working 3 days and giving 2 days to my job share partner. People ask how do you maintain the same positive environment from week to week, when you are both so different? The bottom line is that we both build relationships, but we build them as our own selves. The relationship I have with Student A is different than the one she does, because we are different people.
Who is my true self each day when I teach. Well 4 things from my personal narrative that I know for sure influence my teaching and the culture of my classroom each day are: