It's back to school time again. You have a brand new group of students who you are about to get to know. Some may be academically behind because of socio economic factors, family dynamics, special needs, or from low exceptions from the previous role models around them…
Students will live up to your expectations whether you set them low because of that child’s history, abilities, or your own biases about his or her race, gender, or socio economic class. When students are shown that they are valued, they are part of a team, and that they can succeed, they will! I have had students come through my classroom who were behaviour students who struggled academically in previous years, but had an awesome year with me.
Ways you can structure learning so that students can shine:
-Let students know on day one that they matter to you! Let them know that your job is to do everything in your power to help them succeed! It’s not going to be easy, but they can succeed!
-Goal setting, revisiting, and conferencing.
-Use formative assessment! Let students know how you are assessing their work and what they need to show, prove, or learn in order to show you that they are succeeding.
-Draw the students in with their interests. Do your students need to write about what they did on the weekend? Can they write about the skateboarding, the newest piece of technology, or their favourite artist instead?
-Let your students share part of themselves with the class. This is important for helping children feel valued! Have a multicultural day and have students share about their family and culture. Invite guest speakers into the classroom that share about traditional arts or foods from different cultures that your students will connect with. Put an emphasis on the fact that we are all special and unique and we can all share and learn from one another.
-Younger students who do not have support at home for whatever reason cannot be expected to do homework. It is unrealistic to send students home with a bunch of homework and to have them get home and have no one to help with their homework and then they are set up for failure in the classroom the next day. In this case it is not the student’s fault homework is not done. In my experiences with this situation parents DO want their child to succeed, but survival (basic necessities) come first.
-Invite parents and families in! Get them on your side. Make sure that they understand that you care about their child. Hold special events for parents to help with. I was in a classroom where parents were invited to read with kids during reading time every Friday. Between 5 and 8 parents were always present during that time. Don't forget to call parents for the good things! Let them know that their child shined that day!