Posts tagged #school leadership

Connect With Your Students By Celebrating Community

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A purpose of all schools should be to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed academically. I am not simply referring to students excelling on standardized tests either. Success academically should also be about how well students are able to analyze and apply the information learned in class to their lives because the greatest purpose of education is to prepare students for life.

How then do we get students involved and essentially engaged in our classrooms?

Connecting with them!

At times, it is easier said than done, but meaningful connections between students and teachers are essential in making sure students stay engaged in class.

After all, my mantra is, “You can’t teach them, if you don’t reach them.”

A way for you to connect with your students is to promote and celebrate community on a consistent basis in your classroom, and not only at a one-day event on your campus. You can’t always dictate what gets acknowledged school-wide. But you can choose what gets celebrated in your class.

Students come from various backgrounds, ethnicities, and celebrate numerous cultural norms that you may or may not be familiar with. Therefore, when you celebrate community, you honor the diversity that exists in your classroom.

Here are some ways to consistently celebrate community:

  1. If you have students from different ethnic groups in your class, have them teach the class how they say “hello” in their native language, and then practice saying it together.

  2. Provide students a platform within your class activities and assignments to share aspects of their culture and showcase what makes them different.

  3. Bring in books and other types of media like music and films that showcase diversity and are created by authors and artists from different backgrounds.

  4. Create a wall of achievement where students can list their accomplishments weekly or daily throughout the school year.

Good teachers promote community at the beginning of a school year, but great teachers take steps to celebrate community all-year round. Let’s go be GREAT!

You Have The Power!

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Poverty stricken homes.
Violent neighborhoods
Teenage pregnancies.
High dropout rates.
A community without hope.

Do any of the above descriptors resonate with you in relation to the students you teach? As educators embark, or in some cases, continue with the first weeks of a new school year, two types of emotions are usually invoked. One is of excitement, while the other is that of indifference.

Excitement because a brand-new school year brings new opportunities for teachers to make a difference in the lives of students. Additionally, for some, there’s the thrill of implementing that new classroom decorating theme found on Pinterest. You know who you are!

However, for others, there’s indifference. A lack of interest and concern. Simply, an “I don’t care” attitude. There are myriad reasons for this feeling, some of which may include; heavy workloads and demands that seem to increase each academic year, lack of parent involvement, and challenging student behavior.

I don’t know where you stand. My guess because you are reading this is that you want what’s best for students, and although you know the school year will have its shares of ups and downs, you are committed to a cause that’s bigger than you. For you, the statement, “It’s about doing what’s best for the kids,” really is genuine.

Recently, I watched a video which highlighted the impact made by Dr. Tiffany Anderson in the Jennings School District. You can watch the 6-minute clip below. I want to emphasize on this statement from Dr. Anderson:

“Zip code should not determine the quality of education.”

Your students may not be raised in safe and loving homes that assert the importance of education, both inside and outside of school. Their reality could be going home to grim and dreary neighborhoods. Therefore, some of them will enter your schools with anxiety, anger, and apathy. You can’t control that.

What you can control is the quality of education that you provide them during the hours of the day that they are with you.

What you can do is exalt their minds and open them up to endless opportunities.

What you can take charge of is raising the expectations you have for them.  

Their social class, parents’ level of education, or race/ethnicity should not determine the level of expectations you have for them.

All students are capable of excelling in life. Some students just need that person who is willing to help them discover their hidden potential and show them the strength that lies within them.

You have the power to make a positive impact. Regardless of trials and challenges that you will face this school year, you can make a difference!

Believing in you,
A.C.

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