RE@L’S TEACHERS CORNER WITH TODD LAFRENZ
“Here are some thoughts from our summer travels and adventures into a new school year. Hope these recollection are helpful to you teachers out there as you begin your school year.
Now that your bodies and minds are recharged, it is time to start thinking about the coming school year. But don’t let those memories of summer fade away without tapping into them for valuable lesson to use in your classroom.
One part of a student/teacher connection comes from sharing part of yourself, which includes your own experiences in life. Take some time to think about what you did this summer that you can transfer into your teaching.
One example that I like to use is appreciating the little moments that often get overlooked in our busy lives. Sitting on my back deck and listening to the sounds of my neighborhood is an enjoyable pastime. I often visualize what is going on out there. The sound of crickets chirping, voices coming from a BBQ in a distant backyard, the wind blowing through the trees, a dog looking for some attention or telling a squirrel to back away.
These moments allow me to be mindful and present in the moment, a skill that I try to teach my students and one that I know helps me as a teacher. The skill of critical listening is beneficial for students of all ages and can be developed through practice in different settings: in the classroom, in the hallway, on the playground and out in the field.
Summertime is huge part of teacher’s lives and that of their students, but it means so many different things to all of us. I try not to spend any time on the age-old question of, “What did you do this summer?” For many students, summer break correlates to boredom and often anxiety. I do ask students individually at various times what types of activities they engaged in over the summer but never as a whole group.
Instead, asking questions like “What are you looking forward to this school year? What is one academic and one social area you would like to improve?” Have students write those down in a journal and have them reflect on those goals every few weeks.
Finally, choose 1-2 areas that you would like to improve this year. Find another educator that you can share these with and who will commit to supporting and encouraging you to complete. I have created goals for myself for the past 20 years and the ones that were most successful were the ones that I created with a colleague who kept me accountable.
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