In reflecting upon this semester, I have learned a great deal about building positive relationships with my students. I spent last year teaching third grade and it has been so eye-opening to see how many of those challenges could have been avoided or resolved through the strategies I am learning from my mentor teacher. In talking through, many of those challenges with my mentor, she has provided guidance and simple strategies to help to navigate through them.
The first lesson I’ve learned and biggest takeaway thus far has been the power of keeping things positive. Saying it out loud now seems so simple, but when reflecting upon how frustrated I felt my very first year of teaching, I understand how not being positive can negatively impact your classroom. As we all know children are sponges, whatever we give, they will soak up. For example, we discuss the strategy of the compliment sandwich, where in an efforts to get students to stand in line correctly, complementing the person behind the student and in front of the student, immediately gives that student instant feedback by observation without ever having to directly speak with the student. The simple expectation that when anyone is speaking in the classroom, everyone else if giving the speaker their full attention. I had this perspective that my students would respect me because I would spend hours upon hours, creating these fun and engaging lesson plans and activities. At that time, I felt if my students enjoyed what they were doing in school, that they would love coming to school, and therefore respect me as their teacher. It has really been so eye opening to see the respect my students have for me, through modeling what respect looks like in the classroom.
I feel this Segway’s into my second realization around expectations. I have realized in even observing teachers from kindergarten to 5th grade the importance of setting clear expectations. It was amazing for me to see such structure in observing a kindergarten class. I felt the expectation were no lower than that of any fifth-grade class. Overall, I have learned children are capable of so much if they have guidance, support, and someone who models and has high expectations for them. It has been so exciting to have been a part of creating this positive community within my classroom this year. In being a part of their growth this year I will continue to remind myself to stay positive, because they will only have one third grade year and what a big responsibility we hold as educators to ensure these students are set up for success in years to come.