A Breath of Fresh Air

There is a constant buzz that flutters throughout my house tonight, the excitement has been growing for several weeks now…tomorrow is my daughter’s first day at her new school!  

My daughter is entering her second year in preschool (she is 4 years old). She has always enjoyed learning but has felt burnt out on school lately given that she didn’t have a traditional summer break like most students.  With both my husband and I working full time all year round, our kiddo rarely gets breaks from school. For several months now when my daughter would come home, she would tell me she was bored at school and didn’t want to go back the next day.  I know as an educator this had nothing to do with her school or her teacher, they are both amazing and I have nothing but great things to say about her teachers and the preschool, but nonetheless it broke my heart to hear that she didn’t really want to go to school.

But tonight is different, she is so excited to go to school she can’t sleep (she is literally singing from her bed as I write this haha), she already set out her outfit for tomorrow and took a bath with no fussing!!  Why the sudden change in her perspective?

There are a lot of unpredictables for my daughter tomorrow which she is excited to experience:

  • She gets to bring a lunch from home for the first time ever.  We packed her lunch together tonight and she could not be more excited about her very first lunchbox which she picked out (it has pink sparkles and her name embroidered on in plus matching pink and gold tupperware)!!!
  • She is starting a new school…new friends, new teachers, new classroom pets, new environment to explore!
  • Our daughter got to pick out a “back to school outfit”.  Being the girly girl that she is picked out mustard “heels” which she can’t wait to wear tomorrow.

As her mom, seeing my daughter want to go to school is beyond exhilarating, but I am also a little saddened as I fear this excitement will be short lived and we will soon be back to her asking if she can stay home from school.  

As a teacher, I saw it year after year. Kiddos who couldn’t wait to be in my classroom, then come parent teacher conferences I would hear, to my surprise, that their child struggles to come to school.  I was always so shocked. We were learning a lot; I arrogantly thought I was a “fun” teacher and that we had established a great routine and rapport. But as I look back through my daughter’s eyes, maybe I was stuck in a rut of routine.  

She is so excited for tomorrow because everything is new, come November my students were well aware what each day would bring and what they would be expected to do.  If were to go back into the classroom as a teacher, I would do it so differently, especially since I am experiencing school through a child’s lense more easily now as my child is school aged.  

After doing some research, I found an article from informedED on how to incorporate more “fun” into your classroom.  Although I am not a fan of the title of the article, I did enjoy the useful tips provided that would help continue to light the fire of interest in your student’s eyes, here are a few that were mentioned: 

  1. Discover new things together – Be a learner yourself, your students need to see you learn and thrive through shared experiences.
  2. Incorporate mystery into your lessons – Inquiry based learning activities are a great way to create a natural sense of mystery and excitement within your content.  It is also a great way to generate problem solving and research skills! 🙂
  3. Be goofy; show you care – Have fun yourself, don’t be afraid to let your walls down to build rapport and laugh with your kids.
  4. Participate in projects – Read a little while your students are reading, write when they write.  By performing and sharing the work you create you can model and remind students we are all learners in our classroom community!
  5. Avoid “going through the motions” – Take risks, try new things, learn from your mistakes and enjoy the moment.
  6. Flip your lessons – Give students opportunities to reflect and research.  We need critical thinkers who are able to collaborate and communicate, we need to give them time to practice these skills.
  7. Review – but don’t repeat – material – Spend an hour or two each week reviewing material from past lessons while connecting it to the lesson or unit you are currently working on.
  8. Share your passions – Open up to your students, if you are having fun they will too!
  9. Laugh at your student’s jokes – You spend a lot of time with your students, enjoy being with them!
  10. Replace lectures with conversions – Ditch the sage on a stage be a friendly guide on the side.

Obviously, these are just a few tricks and tips to be mindful of come October when the excitement of a new school year wears off as the weather and leaves begin to change.  As educators, we do everything we can each day to make a difference in our students lives both socially and emotionally. As my daughter settles in before her big day tomorrow, I want to thank all who work in education for their dedication and effort.

Here’s to a successful and exciting 2018-2019 school year!

Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning
(t):630-444-3044
(c):630-675-4447
(e):kalgrim@kaneroe.org

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