Improving quality of life for the differently abled Children & Adults

Back to School

Written By Nicole Rapp, Kindergarten/First Teacher

Back- to-school season is here. We hope that everyone is enjoying your child’s experiences thus far. This last month has been a great beginning to the school year. The students have worked so hard together to build classroom community each day.

There are many new exciting things that we are incorporating this year-but I thought I would share a couple of ways to get our year off to a good start that both parents and teachers do together.

We always start off with the rules and expectations. Each classroom is different. It is important that not only the students know these expectations but parents do as well. This can be as simple as homework expectations, what table work looks like, and respecting other peers. I spend the first couple of weeks going over classroom expectation-in a fun and interactive way-and then we really establish how this runs every day- and it may be slowly. Clear expectations create a better environment for students. After these are communicated, I can further develop strong relationships with students and parents.

For most of my students just establishing good practices of routines can be enough to keep them on task with gentle reminders. Here at LIFE we like to focus on the positive. So, to start the day off right, I greet each of my students at the door. I will ask about their morning and make sure to let each student know that I am glad that they are here. I then let them know what is expected as they enter the classroom (put away things, morning work etc.). Complimenting students that are exhibiting positive behaviors works great as we are directing feedback on things we’d like to see. “Thanks for raising your hand and waiting quietly”. Usually 9 out 10 times, when I compliment a student on task, the kids that might be having difficultly will usually correct their behavior or actions quickly. That means 9 times out of 10, I can correct other behaviors in the classroom without ever focusing on the negative. I kind of like those odds! Praise is everything.

Another way to start off school year right is with modeling. With new expectations, new routine and new curriculum things can feel overwhelming. We model the right way to do things. This can be transferred to anything we want students to do. From walking in line, putting papers away, table routine etc. We soon see students modeling routines and actions for others. Because showing students what we expect is infinitely more powerful, more meaningful, and more memorable than other instruction- by a long shot. After modeling, I think it is important for students to practice this. It might be difficult at first, but we are here to help our kids become more independent and more responsible.

The last thing both teachers and parents can remember when starting off the school year is that mistakes are going to happen. Learning a new process and in a new environment can be tough. It is important that students know teachers are real people. There was a time this past week when I couldn’t find a set of papers. There were times when I didn’t explain things accurately to the students. I admit that I don’t know it all. Communication is the way for all that are involved to have an opportunity to understand one another. As both a parent and a teacher, I want to communicate the best way possible. I want to show my students’ parents (and students!) that I see the students as an individual and they are not just another child in the classroom. It is important to have real conversations about the student. I don’t want to be a teacher that only talks about things that didn’t go quite as right. I want to be talking about successes, knowing a student’s hobbies, what is working in learning or what we can modify. These initial connections we create with each other set the tone for the entire school year.

Starting the year off right provides more opportunities for success throughout the year. All the teachers here at LIFE are excited to do just that with the children we serve!

So welcome to all of those students who are new or returning for the 2017-2018 year!

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