Not at all the 'Same Old Stuff'...Miscellaneous Musings on the First Week of School

...Or, "What I Learned, Again, During my First Week Back to School"

First of all, the days and the entire week, for that matter, went by so fast that I already feel as if I have lost valuable teaching time with my students. Except I need to remember  that every moment I spend with my students is valuable teaching time.  Everything we teachers do with them, every conversation, every interaction counts; they are all teachable moments, because let's face it:  We teachers are in the spotlight....all the time.  Our students are watching, even when we think they are not.  We must be aware of that all the time.

I was reminded of this last week when working with our 8th graders, the oldest at the school.  Each year we begin the year with leadership workshops.  The students were asked to reflect on whom they admire as a leader, and to deconstruct the leadership qualities that person has or exhibits.  I was not surprised to see that some of them had mentioned their teachers or coaches as people they admired and who exhibited leadership qualities that they might want to mimic. 

It struck me, then, that we must always be wary of the fact that our students are watching.  They see us a leaders, or not, depending on our interactions with them, or their perceptions of our actions.  I'm not suggesting that we need to change who we are for them; I'm suggesting that we be aware that our students are watching.  We need to remember that we have a tremendous amount of influence on our students whether we want to have this power or not. I always know this, but it takes moments like this one in the leadership workshop for me to remember.

One more lesson for the week:  Our students are listening, even if we think they aren't.  We need to remember to listen to them, as well; I mean really listen to what they're saying. Last week, starting a brand new year of history, and with students that I have already taught for a year, we got down to serious work. (I already know my students, and they are already familiar with me.) One huge lesson in 6th history is our investigation of of "how do we learn about the past?" and "how do we know that historians are right?" So, beginning the 7th grade, we investigate European history.  One of the first questions I got from a fresh  7th grader:  "How do we know this happened?" and "How do we know the accounts are accurate?"

It was awesome, because she just demonstrated that she was thinking about what we were discussing, really thinking about it. That question showed me that she just got it-and I'm OK with the fact that it took over a year; at least that light went on!  I can't wait for next week!


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