1. Good relationships with students. Take time to get to know them and try different things. You have to get creative in order to reach each student. I have 15 students that divide my attention, but what works for me is being as honest as possible. Of course, there are so many things that students and teachers don’t talk about at school, however, most students want to talk about anything and everything. Finding the time to listen to them has been a challenge and a great reward. Every story I hear or discussion I host with students becomes another brownie point of caring. I feel that when I SHOW with my time and effort that I care about students, their ideas, thoughts, and feelings, the more they’re willing to SHOW me what they need.
2. Everyday, I hope that my students will become better and more functional people. I hope they can find the intrinsic motivation to be the best person that they can be and try their best on everything that they do. When they can advocate for themselves, they are able to access ANYTHING. I say, what do you need to accomplish your task? What is your task? Why do you think we are doing this? I like to help students become aware of their own goals and future. If we can teach students how to express what they need to complete tasks and goals, they can use that knowledge to be independent. And trust me, they LOVE being independent.
3. Resources and innovation. It is ESSENTIAL that I have quality materials to pull ideas from when I am trying to plan lessons and reach each student’s range of proximal development. Each student may have a different gate for accessing the curriculum that I plan. Without a variety of worksheets, practice, technology, games, and ways to present information to students, the goals of the curriculum will never be reached because students never reached the content. Right now, Teachers Pay Teachers, Moby Max, Wilson, Super Teacher Worksheets, and Phonics Books are paving my first year of teaching special education. I combine these resources with manipulatives that I find, borrow, or make. When students can see, touch, move and interact with the content, they are more likely to fully access the curriculum and come closer to reaching their goals.
4. Support. The familial support of my colleagues and the at-home support of my boyfriend and family hold all the crazy together. People say, “Oh, you teach? Summers off must be great. Oh and your job must be fairly easy...how hard is it to teach 2+2?” Every student is different and they have different needs and abilities. Without collaboration and de-stressing friendship, one teacher would go insane brainstorming how to help each student! I hope the friends that I have made this year will last a long time. Friends with the same struggles as you make great listening ears.
5. Breaks...for the teachers and the students. We put kids in desks and chairs with their attention focused nearly all day. Nobody at any age likes that. I’m always finding down time here and there for myself and for my students. I love taking students out for a two-minute walk to get out of the classroom and relax their mind. Some of the stories I
hear and moments I can share with students in those few minutes are things I will never forget. Mother nature never fails for a fresh breath of air and a feeling of renewal after a strenuous lesson or extended activity. Taking breaks can also help students be more focused and efficient, along with making them happy! It sounds corny, but happy
students make learning easier and teaching way more fun.
I hope these tips help you because they helped me just writing them out!