From Our Executive Director, Jacqueline Hicks (Sept. 2017 Newsletter):

An Open Letter to Teachers:

Dear Classroom Teacher,

For most of you, it is the start of the school year and with it a new set of challenges along with the ones well known to you. At the start of a new year, teachers are likely to set up rules to manage their classrooms, control student activity and behavior, and match school-wide expectations. Expectations such as:

  • being on time to class;
  • raising your hand and waiting to be called on;
  • turning off cell phones in class;
  • having water only, no food, drinks or chewing gum;
  • using the restroom during breaks;
  • staying in your assigned seat.

I have been thinking about you beginning your classes and getting to know a new set of students. I’m remembering what that was like for me—a bit of excitement, nervousness and anticipation. I was hopeful that all my plans and preparation would result in my students learning what I was teaching. Like most of you I know that student engagement and classroom management go hand in hand. For me, rather than establishing rules, that meant focusing first on the social-emotional development of my students and second on academic learning. That was my plan for managing my classroom and it worked. Just out of curiosity, consider:

What if during the first weeks of school you and your students just use class time to get to know each other as people?

What if instead you discuss the kind of classroom environment that will really support optimal learning for everyone?

What if instead of rules you and your students establish procedures for how you want to learn together and what to do when it isn’t […]