Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Year, New Eyes

New backpacks. New shoes. New, sharpened pencils. New bulletin boards. New schedules. New software.

New eyes.

Wait, new eyes? Where the heck am I going to get new eyes?  

Before that one kid says something rude. Before that other kid stops showing up. Before a different kid refuses to put her name on her paper.

Let’s start fresh and new. Put on new eyes for tomorrow.

Each kid today is checking his new backpack, putting on her new shoes, checking out an outfit in front of the mirror. Each kid is nervously thinking about the new school year.  Each kid is taking a deep breath before tomorrow.

Each kid shows up hoping THIS will be a great year. Maybe even the best. Each kid’s parent or caregiver says a little prayer or thought that this year, hopefully their kid won’t struggle so much.

You have done a lot of preparation in the past week and a half. You have had meetings, trainings, room set-up. You have learned new software, new textbooks, new procedures, new content, new colleagues.

Now know that not much of that matters if you don’t believe that your kids can learn and grow. Those meetings, trainings, software, and set-up don’t matter if you don’t believe that each student can increase his or her capacity for learning and growth.

Go look at your class rolls. Look at each name. Think about how this year you can increase each kid’s brain power.

Your job isn’t to fill an empty bucket of a brain with content. Your job is to grow the bucket. By the end of the year, I hope most of the kids you teach have “bigger buckets” and a larger capacity for learning.

In case you’re wondering, one of the best ways to do that is to get to know your kids. Kids will grow their capacity for learning more when they feel safe and have a solid, dependable teacher-student relationship.

When you see them on the first day, have them fill out something to help you get to know them. Whether it’s their own paper, your handout, or digital forms, ask them for their name and interests. Ask them who they live with. Ask them what kind of music they like. Ask them their favorite book genre. Ask them what they like about school and what they don’t like. Ask them their favorite subjects or teachers from the past. Ask them what extracurriculars or hobbies they have.

Then, be diligent and purposeful in using that info to get to know them. Group them based on their favorite music, or similar hobbies. Group them based on neighborhood or favorite subject. Help them to get to know each other so you and they have better class dynamics and better behavior.

Use your new eyes. Every kid who walks through your door tomorrow is hoping for a great year. Every kid is hoping that this year, they will be academically and socially successful. Every kid is hoping that this year doesn’t suck.Every kid wants this year to be good.

Take a deep breath before you walk in tomorrow and do two things.
  1. Expect the best of each kid (no matter what you heard) and
  2. Get to know your kids so you can grow their capacity for learning.
Oh, and
3. Rock your first day!

Have a great one! I love to hear from you! Emai lme at

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