Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Building Relationships with Students

We had our first early release day of the year today. While the kiddos got an afternoon off, we spent a couple hours as a staff talking about building relationships with our students. I thought it was a great way to kick off our professional development for the year. It was such a positive afternoon, and I left feeling inspired to try some new things and affirmed in what I am already doing.

Building a relationship with each student is such a critical aspect of our jobs if we want to be successful. By getting to know our students and what their lives are like outside of the classroom, we are building trust and showing them that we care about them.  The littlest things, like taking a minute each morning to listen to a student who needs positive attention, or writing a quick note home celebrating a small success, can make a huge difference in students' attitudes towards us and their school work. If you're looking for some more ideas along these lines, the Responsive Classroom Blog is a great resource for newbies and veterans alike.

One of the games we played as a staff today is a favorite of mine. I always play it on the first day of school as a "getting to know you" activity, but after today, I'm going to look for more ways to incorporate variations of it throughout the year. I call it "Skittles Sharing," but it could be played with m&ms, fruit loops, colored blocks, dice, or even the partner sticker cards I made earlier this year. Give each student a small bag of skittles, or place bowls of Skittles where students can reach them. Each student takes one Skittle of his or her favorite color. Once students have already chosen their color, show them a key like this:

Going around the room, students share according to the question asked for the color Skittle they chose. If you have the time, you can do a couple of rounds, with students choosing a new color each time.

Obviously, there's more to building relationships with our students than trivial shares like this, but knowing that one student's favorite TV show is American Idol and that another student spends all of his free time practicing for dirt bike races opens the door to future conversations that will continue to help us build personal relationships.

Just as my principal closed our staff development today, I'll end here by saying that it is absolutely possible, and critical, to build genuine personal relationships with our students while maintaining appropriate professional boundaries. We should always have high expectations and hold our students accountable for their choices, and establishing positive relationships with our students can make it easier to do so.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I won, I won!

I was so excited when I logged in yesterday and saw that I won the Starbucks gift card that Victoria from Jasztalville was giving away for reaching 100 followers! It totally made my day! If you haven't yet, you should check out her blog. She's one of those teachers who is always coming up with new ideas that will be meaningful to her students, and she shares them with us! Thanks so much, Victoria!

Lightning never strikes twice, but I've also entered Ashleigh's giveaway for a $25 gift card to Amazon. There's still about 24 hours left to enter, if you'd like a shot, too!

I've taken several pictures around my room to share with you all soon, once I get them off my camera!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Excuses, excuses...

I'm feeling pretty lame for starting this blog and then peacing out for three weeks after less than a month. I'd say that you all know how busy this time of year is, but the fact that so many of you haven't missed a beat just makes me feel even more lame (lamer?).

Between implementing a totally new language arts curriculum (which I'm loving, and I'll try to blog about soon!), taking a graduate class, giving my puppy the attention he needs, taking him to class, going out of town almost every weekend, and the general craziness of the beginning of the year, I've fallen way behind on several personal projects. I haven't felt this crazed in September since I was a first year teacher!

So... I've received my first blogging award, despite my prolonged hiatus! Leslie (The Science Gal) nominated me as a Versatile Blogger! (My versatility: sometimes I blog, sometimes I don't!)
I'm supposed to list seven things about myself. Here goes:
  1. I (sort of) speak German. I lived on an American military base in Germany in high school, which prompted me to major in German in college and spend a semester in Salzburg, Austria. I'm really rusty and out of practice, but my sister and I did spend the better part of an hour conversing in German last night.
  2. If I weren't a teacher, I would be an event planner, a caterer, or a photographer.
  3. I LOVE anything with peanut butter and chocolate in it.
  4. I played the French horn in middle and high school.
  5. I met my husband during band camp.
  6. I have a super cute puppy named Indy who loooooves attention.
  7. I am extremely Type A when it comes to organizing my classroom and keeping it clean, but a total slacker when it comes to housekeeping at home. I'm so grateful for my husband, who puts up with my clothes on the bedroom floor, picks up all of the paper clips I leave scattered about, and cleans up after dinner while I finish eating. He also does way more than his fair share of laundry!
I'm supposed to pass this award on to 15 other bloggers, but since I'm so late to the game that most of you have already gotten it, I'll just say that if I follow you or if you follow me, and you haven't received this award yet, consider yourself nominated!

Maybe I'll be back here before the middle of October? :)