There is a lot said about best teacher practice. But sometimes we make it more complicated than necessary.
Recently, my intern returned from observing a beloved third-grade teacher in our school and came back with a nugget that sums up what best teacher practice boils down to. “What’s your advice for a first year teacher?” she’d asked. And this wonderful educator replied, “In those first couple of months, just love them.”
That, folks, is everything. (And it speaks to why both kids and adults alike adore this woman.)
When kids know that you care about them, a relationship begins, and with a solid bond in place, your students will be successful, no matter what obstacles they face or whatever mistakes they make.
Best teacher practice: what does “love them” look like?
To become the best teacher possible for your kids, you need to love them. But what does that look like, exactly?
Get to know them: best teacher practice
The first step is getting to know them. When you know them well, it’s very hard not to love them. 🙂
I wish my teacher knew
An exercise called “I wish my teacher knew” is an excellent place to start. This can be as short as ten minutes or as a long as a writing period. The feedback you get from your kids will create a solid foundation of trust to build a relationship on, particularly if you follow up with students privately on what they wrote to you.
This exercise is something you can do multiple times throughout the year, to get a dipstick sense on how your kids are feeling. I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you go to “I wish my teacher knew,” you can download the exercise and try it with your students right away. (You should check out the book of the teacher who started this movement. All the info is on the linked “I wish my teacher knew” post.)
Pick 3 and see
After the getting to know you games of September pass, it’s hard to stay on top of how every kid is doing and feeling each day. But if you try the “Pick 3 and see” getting to know you method, you’ll give each child the time they crave and need to connect with you. Whether it’s discussing their birthday party or something more serious, your kids will blossom when they get that wonderful check-in time. Showing your love for kids is done, in great part, by paying attention to them.
Learn about their cultures and holidays
In our room, we’ve done Holiday Research Projects to highlight the diversity in the classroom. While the kids can research any holiday, the majority understandably sidle those that their families celebrate. A best teacher practice is to learn about a student’s culture and this is a powerful way to do it.
Again, the more your learn about your charges and learn to appreciate them, the more you will be showing your respect and love for them.
Identify the lonely kids
The lonely children are the easiest to miss, mainly because they’re typically not exhibiting attention-seeking behavior. For this reason, a best teacher practice is to identify the lonely kids through classroom setup. This free and downloadable questionnaire helps you figure out who each student can work with, who they can’t, who their friends are, etc. While it helps in rearranging seating in the classroom, its primary purpose is to identify the kids who don’t have any friends yet. The results can be surprising, and the data is priceless in helping you pinpoint who you need to help. I’ll usually do this survey two or three times a year, as the kids’ friendships and maturity levels can shift in fourth grade.
Bring your best self to the classroom
You are the common denominator for all those kiddos. So make sure you bring your best self to the table.
Kids LOVE learning about their teachers. Share stories about your cat, nephew, or garden. Share a new book you’re reading. When we bring ourselves to the classroom and along with our unique gifts, the kids are more invested in us as people. In this post, I share how my high school physics teacher used this strategy to change the way I looked at his subject forever.
Keep the blues at bay
It’s oh-so-easy to get the blues. We have a hard job and most non-educator folks don’t understand the amount of work that goes into it.
Still. We need to bring our best selves, which means treating ourself like gold.
A happy and fulfilled teacher is a loving and effective teacher.
Connect with them through books: best teacher practice
Books are a monumental way to love your kids. When you find out their literary interests and cater your library to suit their needs, your relationship will deepen. They will know you “get” them.
Introduce your classroom library
Don’t worry if you don’t have a classroom library yet. I share lots of cheap/free strategies for building up your own phenomenal classroom library here.
Be their superhero and stock up on graphic novels
Graphic novels are the way to a child’s heart. They love these things! You will seldom hear a child say, “I can’t find anything good to read,” when you have a stack of these babies on your shelves.
When kids feel loved by their teacher, it doesn’t mean that they will be perfect little angels all the time. What it does mean is that you will have a touchstone to help them get back on track and so that they ultimately put their own best selves forward.
Love them. And see what happens!
New teacher freebie!
And one more thing. If you are a newly hired teacher, I’ve pulled together a best teacher practice checklist of things to do as you prepare for back to school time This is the list I wish someone had handed to me after I got hired and has oodles of practical tips to get you started in the right direction so that you feel ready and confident on day one.
Now it’s time to turn the mike over to you! In the comments below, tell us:
- How do you show your students you love them?
- What will you try in the future to let them know they are loved?
As always, if you found this information valuable, please share it on your favorite social media platform! Till next week!
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