I'm linking up with Lisa from PAWSitively Teaching to offer some Words of Wisdom for new teachers. I completely agree with everything Lisa said in her post. If you haven't read it yet, CLICK HERE to do so. It's wonderful.
I think the first point Lisa mentioned is an absolute MUST, so I'm going to repeat it -- make sure you focus on each of your students as an individual. Get to know them on a personal level. Find out about their family, what they do on the weekend, their favorite things to do outside of school, anything about them. A great teacher knows each of their students' academic strengths and weaknesses, as well as their personal likes, dislikes, family life, and interests.
Every Monday morning, I require each of my kiddos to tell me something about their weekend. It doesn't have to be anything special, I just want to know something. I really focus on what they are saying and often try to ask a question or two to gather more information. Not only does this help me get to know them, they get to know their classmates AND it allows them an authentic opportunity to practice their listening and speaking skills.
I know this is difficult to do because as a classroom teacher you're pulled in so many directions and have so many requirements, however, I think building positive relationships with your kiddos is the number one requirement for a successful teacher.
My second Words of Wisdom goes hand in hand with number one, build positive relationships with your students' families. Within the first few weeks of school, I always make an effort to call each family AND send a positive note home. Many students have never gotten a positive phone call or note home, so this could be a game changer. Plus, if you do this within the first few weeks, you most likely will have something positive to say about even the most difficult students. Reaching out to each family shows them that you're invested in their child. And when families know you want the best for their child, they will be more supportive when you need to address problems that may arise during the rest of the year.
Another way to build positive relationships with your students' families is to truly listen when your students tell you about what's going on in their personal life. If they tell you a grandparent passed away, send a card home expressing your sympathy (Walgreens actually has boxes of cards for only a few bucks. I purchase these and then keep them in my classroom so I always have cards on hand to send home.). If one of your student's has a new sibling, send home a small gift to congratulate them. If you find out it's a family member's birthday, simply write "Happy Birthday _____" in their agenda.
And if you notice one of your students hasn't been acting like their normal self, call their family and tell them what you've observed and that you're concerned. Most likely, something is going on at home and their family will be grateful you called to let them know it's affecting their child during the day.
Last but not least, ALWAYS BE FLEXIBLE. Even though you need to have your lessons planned out and everything ready to go, things very rarely go as planned, so make sure you're flexible. The more flexible you are, the better off you'll be.
I hope my Words of Wisdom were helpful. If you want to read more, make sure you check out PAWSitively Teaching's linky for additional Words of Wisdom -- or to add your own.