This week's Take5 is focused on working to understand each other better. Recognizing racism in education, promoting #OwnVoices books about indigenous peoples, communicating with middle school students, the changing nature of parenting and childhood, and combating perfectionism. Check it out!
As I prepare this year to send my own daughter to her first year of middle school, I am increasingly aware of the complexity of being a preteen (and teen) in 2019. There is a lot to navigate -- academics, extra-curricular activities, social-emotional well-being, friendships, and the ever present cell phone culture. I've always tried to build relationships with my students, but this year I want to double-down on this practice by giving kids even more outlets for reaching out to me for help or simply guidance. I'm not exactly sure what this will look like in it's entirety but here are some strategies that I plan on using (some old, some new to me). I hope they'll spark ideas for you about how to continue to strengthen your relationship with students.
This week we wrapped up our first semester of the school year at our middle school. And the stress level was palpable. Teachers were feeling the crunch of what seems to be a never ending to-do list. I swear every time I opened my email there was another thing to do. And I wasn't the only one; my students were feeling it too. I asked what in the world was going on when I saw one of my kiddos looking exasperated -- her reply, "there is just so much to do." Meanwhile, other students were acting so off task it was as if they had never been in a classroom before: a sure sign that their formative minds are completely overwhelmed. I honestly left my building Thursday afternoon, frustrated (like, where did I go wrong; how did I let myself get so stressed and why did I let myself stress my students out?). Time to dig deep and try to come up with solutions. I called my stepmom (a huge support in my life for decades and a veteran teacher with more than 30 years of experience) for ideas and also of course hit up some favorite blogs and websites. In case you had a week like mine (AAAHHHH - make it stop!), here's what I found.
Lately, I've felt the stress creep in. Looking at the calendar, the timing is about right. School is in full swing, the breaks are few and far between (no fall break for my school district), the work is piling up. Oh, and the gloss of "this is all new and shiny!" is wearing off. Kids are getting tired. Their work is getting harder. You get the idea and if you are a teacher, you know what I mean because you are living it. That's not to say I don't love my job. I do -- I love it to the tips of my little dressy flats --, but if you pour your soul into this job the way the work demands, it's stressful. It just is. So as teachers, we have to not only constantly work to create the best lesson and to build lasting relationships with our students, but also to keep stress in check so that we can be our best selves -- the selves our students need. So this week, I've taken a deep look at mindfulness as a way to combat the stress both in my own life, but also in the lives of my students. Here's what I discovered along the way.
Take5: the Power of Houses in Schools, Alleviating Math Anxiety, Books to add to your Summer Reading List and More.
While many of you are already basking in summer, some of us are still teaching. Our school year ends for students this week, but I know many East Coast schools are still in session as late as next week. Whether you are winding down this school year or already looking to the year ahead, we hope this week's Take5 helps inform your teaching. We touch on the weighty topic of suicide prevention. We also offer tips for supporting the creation of Houses in schools to promote belonging, strategies for spotting math anxiety in kids and stopping it in its tracks, and share a newly developed method for tracking cell phone use. Lastly, consider adding YA books to your summer reading by checking out a Best of 2018 YA List. So take a few minutes to Take5.
BubbleUp Take5: Mental Health, Restorative Conversations, Capturing Student Voices, Discussion Strategies and Dogs!
This week's Take5 is full of strategies to promote student engagement and even more important, student well-being. From a new teaching practice -- Restorative Conversations -- to giving students a bigger voice in schools to the use of therapy dogs in classrooms across the country, we're focused on students' ability to communicate and to feel a sense of belonging at school. Together, we can all take steps -- big and small -- to help our students thrive not only academically but also emotionally.
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