Saturday, August 6, 2011

First Impressions

A new year has begun! With new students comes new worries, new joys, new stories, new emotions, new lessons, new ideas...and just about anything else you can imagine. It's amazing how quickly you learn their names and how quickly they become like family. They have so much to offer and so much energy bottled up inside just waiting to explode. I have found that most kids want discipline coupled with a challenge. They also want to be entertained and valued - both not easy to pull off.

The first week of a new school year is full of first impressions. You look the students over and observe their every move - the way they dress, the way they speak, the way they respond, they way they interact with others, and they way the listen. You can learn a lot by simply observing them. For example, I allowed the students to work in groups if they'd like and was immediately able to recognize who had friends in the class and who didn't. Greeting the kids at the door when they enter the classroom is another way to observe them. Some respond politely, while others simply ignore me. On a rare occasion I even have students who greet me before I have a chance to greet them. These moments are quite enjoyable.

First impressions can often be deceiving though. It doesn't take long to figure that out either. Like I always tell my students, make decisions about people based on what you see them doing, more than what you hear them saying. Empty promises are shared daily between people, and there is just no room for them in my classroom. I tell my students that I care about them and want this year to be like no other year they have ever had before. I follow that statement with a promise that I intend to show them throughout the year that this statement is true.

It will probably take a couple more weeks for me to have a chance to interact with all of my students in some way. Therefore I will be forming some more first impressions. I'm excited, and encouraged, and I hope to always remember that all kids share a common goal - wanting to feel valued and cared for. With this in mind, I don't think I can fail, and even better than that, I know I can make a difference.

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