Welcome all students early and often

As the new school year approaches, it is critical to let students know that no matter what has happened in the past, they are always welcome in our classroom. Everyone is getting a fresh start, a new opportunity, and the benefit of the doubt. I like to remind all of my students that there is a reason a car has a large windshield with small rear view and side mirrors. In life the goal is to go forward. It is important we glance back to remember where we came from. But no matter what happened in our past we have the option to move ahead. Remember, kids often change over the summer. Do not go into the school year with preconceived notions. Here are three great welcoming strategies that have worked with teachers of all grades in every type of environment.

  • Greet troubled students personally at the door as they arrive. Ask them how their summer went. Wish them a great school year. Tell them you are glad they are in your class. Ask if there is anything special you can do to help them be successful in this classroom this year.
  • Ask students to close their eyes and think about their favorite teacher they ever had. Let them write or say what that teacher did that was so great. Try to incorporate as many of their ideas as possible, especially with your most difficult students. If a student does not have a favorite, ask what you could do to become their favorite.
  • Allow students to occasionally grade you. After all, we spend a ton of time grading them. I like to do a 4 question quiz. Questions one and two: What are the two best things about me as a teacher? Questions three and four: What are two things about me as a teacher you would like me to change? I realize the year is just beginning but I do this on the last day of our first week and at least once per month after. As always, don’t forget to follow me on twitter @Brianmendler for more teaching tips! Have a great school year everyone!