As the new school year is about to begin, I am excited to meet your students and looking forward to having a great and enjoyable class this year. Before we start, however, I wanted to take some time to let you know a little bit about me and my philosophy of our learning environment. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough as I believe that in order for students to learn, their learning environment must have structure, understanding, and it must be a safe place to learn and share our thoughts, above all. First of all, I will be spending the first week of school going over the classroom rules with the students, as well as do some team building exercises. As we will be spending a large amount of time together over the next 9 months, we need to learn about each other and we need to learn how to operate as a "classroom family."
When the students come in each day, they will be expected to be ready to work. As they enter the class, I will greet them all and welcome them to the class. After I greet them and welcome them in, they will take their seats and be quiet and ready as soon as the bell rings. Part of the first week will be developing routines within class, but in this correspondence, I would like to give a quick overview of the basic, foundational rules and expectations I have in my classroom.
Overall, the number 1 rule in my class is respect: respect for the teacher, respect for fellow students, and respect for yourself. If the number 1 rule is followed, all other rules will follow it. If a student wants to share something, they must raise their hand and never interrupt anyone who is talking. Once they are called on, they have the floor and no one should interrupt them. The same goes for me, the teacher. If a student is speaking, I will not interrupt them, and when I am speaking, I expect the same courtesy.
All opinions are valid and students should feel safe to share whatever they wish. Sometimes, there may be tough conversations that develop, and if students are going to be open, honest, and sometimes vulnerable, they need to be safe. If a student doesn't want to share something, they will never be forced, or pressed to. If they wish to do so, they may, and as the teacher I will share openly with them first to lead the way, in a sense. My guard will never be up while in class.
Students should never fear failure, and never be afraid to take risks. Today, we are taught that failure is something o avoid and even run from. The world says that success is the only thing to be proud of and that one should be ashamed of failure. However, if that is true, then how can we ever succeed? Neurological tests have actually come show that if you fail, you learn more than if you succeed. The allegory I like to use is the story of Thomas Edison: when Edison was asked about his failures in creating a working light bulb, he simply stated, "I have not failed 10,000 times - I've successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work." That is how our students should view failure and risk. The classroom is a safe place to be bold, step out, and take risks. They may fail, but they must train their minds to view "failure" as just another word for "growing." Failure now will only lead to success in the future!
Lastly, I always put the students first. If they ever need some help with anything, need to discuss anything, or even if they just want to talk, my door is always open to them. I am not, however, a substitute for a parent and I encourage all parents/guardians to play an active part in your student's life. The more support they have, the more they will learn and the more they will grow. As a teacher, I am just one small piece of the puzzle that is your students' life. I will do my best to encourage, care about, and love your children at school, but all learning and all growing up starts at home.
I am looking forward to this year and hope to meet each of you as the year goes by. It would be great to connect the student to the parent! If you have any questions, concerns, thoughts, or even words of encouragement, feel free to call me, or send me an email.