Sunday, February 18, 2018

School Culture Matters

Creating a safe place for students to learn, grow and be a part of is crucial. At the beginning of every school year we talk about family in my classroom. We talk about how our class is like a family and how we actually spend more time together in a regular week that we do with our families at home. Also we talk about how we each play a role in that family. I want students to know they always have a place in my classroom no matter how many years go by. School culture matters!
There are so many opportunities to make our family stronger throughout the school year, but for me those relationships do not stop on the last day of the school year. We are in a brand new building this year that has 1st through 6th grade in order down one long hall. It is awesome because every morning our 4th grade team stands outside our door giving high fives and knuckle bumps to not only our classes but the class we had last year as they walk past and the class we had the year before that. Those students know that just because they may not spend the day in my class they will forever be welcome and they take advantage of that. Kids stop in throughout the day...every only rule is they need to read the room before walking in, which they respect. That means if I am in a meeting with either a student or adult they need to come back later otherwise they are always welcome. These relationships are built on trust and respect.

I love days when my own family can come spend time with my classroom family and one of my favorite is our Thanksgiving feast in November. My husband and 3 kids stop at a restaurant and pick up a full Thanksgiving meal then serve it in my classroom to the whole 4th grade. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but that is not the case for everyone. This is an amazing opportunity to connect with my students and they spend the rest of the year asking about my own kids as if they have known them forever.

Lunches are another great way to build culture. Student love to eat lunch somewhere other than the lunch room so we have days set up in which they can come eat in my room (5th graders get taco days and 6th graders get mash potato days) and on those days there is a classroom FULL of kids. I may  not have perfect state test scores, but I am reminded especially on these days how impactful I can be.

Connecting with students on the playground are some of my favorite times at school. We have a Wellness Wednesday every week that is amazing. It is an extended time outside at the end of each Wednesday in which the whole 4th grade including teachers play a large group game. The opportunities to teach students about good sportsmanship and bonding as a team are priceless. Yes, there is usually a winner, but it always ends with a handshake line and kids saying "good game". Us teachers wear workout clothes that day and any student who has been in our class recognizes the day and often stop to ask us what game we are playing that day for Wellness Wednesday. Many times I have kids say it was one of their favorite things in 4th grade.

It seems more important than ever that we are connecting with our students and creating a culture that is healthy, supportive and empowers kids. My goal is that each and every student that I have knows that they were valued and cared about not just the year they were in my class but forever.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What Can We Do to Keep Shining?

Sometimes a school culture can feel a little toxic. The judgements, criticism, burn out, bad attitudes and some just bad days. We are at a ...