Renay started this month talking about a teacher she used to work with. While there were things about this teacher she just did not like, there were many take aways from the way the class was conducted that made sense. Such is the process on the first day of school.
On the first day, the teacher gathered all the students at the door of the classroom. There was a discussion about general expectations, but the teacher ended on this, “When you walk into the classroom, show me you are serious about being in the room right now.” Now to be utterly fair, this was a high school level class so, the range of expectations were quite a bit higher than those brightly covered doors welcoming curiosity and failure that might also be found in preschool and elementary schools.
But this got us thinking about the importance of the door. It is nerve wracking as an adult to walk onto a campus and into a classroom and especially one when you do not know what you might be walking into. Sometimes you walk into a relationship that will define your professional career. Other times you might be walking into a situation with a student and you will need to diffuse that as much as possible. And a few times that might not even go as well as you may have intended.
Before you walk in the door with a full class
- Get to know the teacher if possible. Not all situations will allow you to get to know the teacher before you walk in for that first class. But the more you know the better things will be.
- It is a professional relationship. Try not to use positions of authority to leverage your positions, it causes distrust.
- If you are walking in during the middle of a class block, pause before you walk into the door, take a slow breath and then enter. Be ready to walk into a variety of situations, both positive and negative. And letting go of where you were from is very helpful for many students and teachers.
- And if you are running in the hall, say after a student, knowing the campus and where to divert students as necessary is very useful. Call the audible down the hall. (Yes, we said shout down the hall ahead so the team knows how to respond.)
Being a new staff member on a campus and learning how to handle students who have behaviors make one wonder when is ‘enough enough’? Knowing what you will and will not accept from a student, even one who is learning to do ‘school’ is important. Guiding behaviors is not always comparable to bringing up their own children. We do not always know our students the way we know children we are raising in our homes. It is also important to know that though it is key to be consistent with all expectations do not get lost in enforcing expectations at the cost of your personal safety with a student who is about to push or hit.
Edges of Thresholds
Education is a very female dominated industry. However, we are in the business of teaching all children, not just the ones whose identities generally resonate female. And for the most part finding male teachers, especially male teachers in the younger years of students’ education is important. But this also speaks to identity of one’s self. Not all students have positive male role models. Not all students will see themselves in even the most diverse of faculty and staff at any given school campus. But consider that as a factor sometimes when you are frustrated and alone with a student who may just not understand who you are because they are grappling with their understanding of the world and the scope of the world that they can understand. This applies to younger and younger children more so now than ever.
Those First Steps Across…
Some students do better right now on a partial day schedule. Having those conversations before school starts and having an exit strategy is in the student’s best interest. This is a case-by-case basis and starts with trusting the student. Especially the younger students that may have never had a full day of school this is a hard transition. Be ready. Education as we know it looks very different than it ever has and we will adjust to help each other.
Do you have any comments about this month’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during once a month during the academic school year. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.