Trust Yourself – You Know a Lot Already
Did the first half of the school year give you a “déjà vu” feeling from your first year of teaching? Everything feels new and unfamiliar. A lot of time is spent ironing out kinks in systems that you thought would be seamless, only to discover – that’s not going to work! A once well-oiled machine, now just sputtering along. Just like that first year, this year has been hard.
Years ago, I heard a teacher say to a struggling young learner, “Trust yourself. You know a lot already.” That has always stuck with me and became my mantra this past fall. When I found myself feeling overwhelmed at the thought of having to re-create how I did everything, I thought trust yourself – you know a lot already. That got me thinking – what do I know? With all the changes at the start of the year, I felt like I might not know the what or the how, but I do know the why. Reminding myself to always go back to the purpose of the practice really helped.
Morning Meeting ~ How do I hold a Morning Meeting when we have to be socially distanced or do a group activity virtually? I go back to the purpose of Morning Meeting, which is to meet students’ needs for belonging, significance, and fun. Returning to the purpose helped me build the confidence to move forward. Morning Meetings might look different but can feel the same … students eager for the day to start with a hello from a friend. A hello from a friend in a breakout room or six feet apart is still a hello from a friend, and that feels good.
Interactive Modeling ~ I chuckle when my students say, “Can we play that game again when we line up at the door and you watch us and then tell us how good we did?” The power of Interactive Modeling is that it is engaging – so engaging that my young students think it’s a game. For them, it’s fun. The purpose of Interactive Modeling is to show students rather than tell students the routines and procedures. Holding on to that knowledge really helped me feel more secure in building my routines and procedures in this very unusual school year.
Responding to Misbehavior ~ Imagine the chaos of the hallways, cafeterias, playground, not to mention dismissal – in a Primary School with 900 PreK-2nd grade students. That’s my school. With only have half the students attending at time, the first few weeks of school were very quiet. But as we got comfortable in our new way of teaching, the students got comfortable too. Misbehaviors slowly creeped back in. In this unique year, I really needed to remind myself about the purpose behind responding to misbehavior. It is about preserving the dignity of oneself, the rule-breaker and the class community. It is about stopping the misbehavior in the moment, keeping it from escalating and restoring positive behavior quickly. The heart of it all is caring for children and seeking ways to help them learn and grow.
With the fall behind me and a good chunk of the year still ahead, I find myself wondering and worrying about the unknowns … the what ifs … So, I remind myself, trust yourself – you know a lot already.
Written by Amy Wade, Responsive Classroom Consulting Teacher