During our Morning Pages this morning, I was writing a letter to my future self to read when being a teacher gets tough. I know it will get very hard and I will get so stressed with grading I will want to BURN all of their essays because I will talking myself into not caring about my job (woah, that sounds harsh). So, I thought by writing about why I want this will be very important for the future and I also hope that when I have a new experience or area of enlightenment, I will write it down.
Anyways, one thought that I wanted to continue with is that I never felt like I really mattered when I was in the classroom; I never had a super strong relationship with any teacher really and I always envied the students that did. Some of my friends still keep in contact with our teachers from high school, like my best friend sends his papers to our English teacher for him to look over and revise. I went to my old high school to observe and I felt like I had to introduce myself to everyone when I walked in. I want the opposite for every single one of my students that walks into my classroom. I want to be able to connect with each and every student; I want to know what they like, what they don’t like, how their other classes are going, how their friends are, how their families are,how are their pets. It may be a little inconceivable to think this, but shoot for the stars am I right? I just do not want my students to feel how I felt. And maybe they already are super close with their science teacher and maybe some students and I just do not vibe, and that is fine. But I still want them to feel like they are important and have a space to feel comfortable in and that I am on their side. I think that by seeing that my students are happy in my classroom will be very affirming for me as a teacher because this is something that I value so much. On Thursday, in my CO301D class, we had a sub, Kelly Burns, and she is probably my new idol. Basically, everything she said definitely reaffirmed everything I want to be. She basically said that it is so important to make those special connections with students in order for them to get the most beneficial education.
Ms. Burns also explained to us how to deal with those students that are “trouble makers”. This is something I have been more and more worried about with each time I go to the middle school to teach. Ms. Burns told us that we just have to make relationships with the students, get on their level and get to know them. She gave us a couple examples of some male students who were those kids that just did not want to be there, one student would walk into class, when he went to class, and just immediately put his hoodie on and go to sleep. Ms. Burns told us that over time, she was able to build a relationship with this student that involved getting to be able to relate to him, understand his personal life, take a special interest in his well-being, and empowering him; when he would show up to class, Ms. Burns would thank him for coming and tell him how great it was to see him and hear him participate. Ms. Burns also told us about another male student who would come to class but just would check out and be very difficult in class. Ms. Burns found out that he was an incredible diesel engine mechanic and she happened to have a car with a diesel engine. She took it to him and he ended up giving her a great discount and this led them to a great relationship; they had something in common. They spent more time together and she eventually was able to know what motivated him and what he really understood. Ms. Burns then told us that when it comes to female teachers and female students, it is a completely different ball game. The major aspect I got out of that was the importance of empowering them. When woman act it, it is most likely because they do not feel good enough, so if their English teacher is constantly telling them how talented and capable they are, it could have a major positive effect on them. I was wondering how exactly we are supposed to make ourselves relate able, especially in school districts where you may have absolutely nothing in common with your students. But she explained to us that we do have a voice that can contribute to the conversation in some way!
Another awesome idea Ms. Kelly Burns brought up is the Expert Jar. Basically, she described it as on the first day of class, she has every student fill out a note card with one thing they are an absolute expert on and they put them into the Expert Jar and Ms. Burns would then make an Expert Wall. Then, in the middle of the year, she has them make new Expert Cards. I just loved this idea because it really empowers each and every student and shows the entire class that they all have a voice and really know about something. Ms. Burns told us that, no doubt, there will be one instance where that skill will be useful for the class.
Ms. Burns definitely had some very wise words that she shared with us that I do NOT want to forget. Her ideas about how to run a classroom really enforce a lot of ideas I have and it is encouraging to know that these do in fact work and make the classroom a better place. This is not where I expected this blog post to go but I think it all flows and brings my points together about important ideas I am learning about in my education right now that I absolutely do not want to forget.