“Seeing their enthusiasm is contagious, and it creates a wonderful environment that makes my classroom as much of a joy for me as it does for them.”
Long Island, NY
I’ve been a teacher for thirty years now.
And you would think the job would’ve gotten easier over time. With every coming September, a new challenge awaits in the form of a group of twenty or so, mostly 3rd graders.
In each of the classes I teach, every kid has their own unique character and tendencies. To be able to teach class after class, year after year (without losing my mind or my job), I must build trust with my students and channel my inner child.
I must be mindful of my words and be a good listener. All that while adhering to the curriculum mandated by my school district. I’ve found that to be the most authentic teacher possible, I have to express myself with my students.
While my school tells me the kinds of lessons the children are expected to learn, I enjoy a lot of freedom about choosing how to guide them through their lessons. One of my favorite ways to spice up a lesson plan is through hands-on learning.
My favorite way to do this is by dressing up as the main character of whatever book we’re reading. When I do out-of-the-box things like that, it allows my pupils to develop a genuine connection to what they are learning, rather than just committing what they’re reading to rote memorization.
Another tool I use is encouraging children to be open about their cultural and familial backgrounds, creating a sense of community in the class that is open to differences and all kinds of people.
If my years of teaching have taught me one thing, it’s that the best way to relate to kids is to act like one. And the best way to do this is through self-expression.
When I dress up like a detective to do a dramatic reading, my adult friends think I go beyond. But the kids, they love it! Seeing their enthusiasm is contagious, and it creates a wonderful environment that makes my classroom as much of a joy for me as it does for them.