Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer time and Lessons Learned

WAHOO!  After teaching almost the entire month of June, we are finally out for the summer!  Our last day of school was June 20... The end of the year was odd for me this year.. because not only was I never going to see those kiddos again, but I'd never be a teacher at the school again... :(

It has been great sleeping in the past 2 days.. but tomorrow I hit the ground running with a Responsive Classroom course that is 4 days long, 8:00am-3:30pm.  Does it ever end?  I'm beginning to believe that it really doesn't!  Does your school district/county use the Responsive Classroom?  I have never had any experience with it in the classroom.. but the district I am teaching in starting next year does... and I am excited to learn about it!

So, anyway.. the point of today's post is to share with you what I learned about myself and teaching after the hardest year of my career thus far..  Here goes!

1)  Remain steadfast in high expectations-  this year, the group of kiddos I had could be classified as challenging.. but what I saw happen as the year progressed, was their will to be challenged, held to, and praised for reaching the high expectations that were set for them.. In the end, many of them were able to set high learning outcomes and expectations for themselves! 

2)  Hugs can mean the world- this one's pretty straight can change the entire course of the day..I gave out A LOT of these this year..

3) Consistency, consistency, consistency!- I learned early on this year that the rules are the rules, and our behavior hierarchy is the same.. no matter if you are a first or fifth time offender.. simple things like wearing a hat, or calling out.. I had to stay consistent with the expectation, or I would lose my credibility!

For example, one rule in our classroom helps to ensure that our transition times are efficient..after giving a direction and beginning to count down to give them time to follow the direction, if I get to zero and kiddos aren't settled I start counting up.. and every second is a minute off recess. 

After counting down to zero one day, I had one boy say to me, "You said each second is a minute. I took less than a second to get to my seat."  to which I replied, "You took a half second, I'll see you for a half a minute of your recess."  I learned in that moment that these were smart little 4th graders who needed to know that there was no argument good enough to get them out of following the rules... even if it is "just a hat" or "just shut-up".. which leads me to my next..

4) Kids CAN go an entire year without saying suck, shut-up, or stupid-  my team and I met over the summer to prepare for these kiddos, and one of the things we felt strongly about was setting the bar high for the types of language they can use during the school day.  I started the year out by explaining to them that there are "3 S-words" we will never ever say in our classroom.. I told them I was going to say them this one time so we all know them, and then they would never be said again!  They got the message that if those are unacceptable, than anything worse MUST be unacceptable..

5) Tough love - that's my teaching style.. similar to the authoritative parenting style.. and I'm alright with it..!! Haven't met a kid yet that it doesn't work for.. :)

In a nutshell, I learned that your kids can do anything they set their minds to if they believe you truly care about them... REALLY!  Sometimes, it just takes some convincing and setting the bar high on our part... What did you learn this year?

~Miss McDonald :)


  1. I learned that you are an amazingly wonderful teacher. Love, your Mama! xoxo

  2. Great lessons for you to share. Thank you.