Sunday, August 21, 2016

Every Kid Every Day

Getting used to a new school and its culture is never easy. We have to learn new procedures, new rules, new building geography, new personnel and new kiddos. Frankly, we have to learn new everything. It was quite a change for me, moving from Webster Groves, a small (4100 students) suburban St. Louis school district, to Collier County School District, a massive (45000 students), incredibly diverse district. I wondered how different things would be in my new environment. After all, I was in Webster Groves for 24 years and knew the lay of the land pretty well. Here in Naples, I knew nothing and no one.

Working with the kiddos for the past week, our first week in session, has reinforced something I've known and preached all along. Kids are kids. It doesn't matter where you go, what role you have, or what grade level you teach, kids are kids. Their wants and needs, expectations and goals, are universal.

Kids want to know that we care about them.
Kids want to know that we value them.
Kids want to know that we have their best interests at heart.
Kids want to know that our environment will value their differences.
Kids want to know that they are safe, both physically and emotionally.
Kids want to know that we will push them to be their best.
Kids want to know that we want what's best for them.
Kids want to know that WE are there for THEM.

All of my kiddos in Webster Groves wanted these things. All of my kiddos in Naples also want these things. In order to get the best out of our students, we have to give them our best. Every kiddo. Every day. When we are able to create the culture and climate that values each child as an individual and intelligent learner, they will respond in kind. They will start seeing themselves as unique individuals who are intelligent learners, even if they didn't view themselves that way before. 

Teachers rightly note that we have so many students and so little time with them. While this is true, we must carve out pockets of time to visit with each student daily to make sure that they have many positive interactions. We have to use our influence to show students that they are bright, hard-working kids with talents and skills. Many kiddos have not been told about their strengths and talents. We have to. We have to make sure their self-image is boosted, helping them gain the confidence they will need as they move on through school and life. That happens in our classrooms. Every kid. Every day.

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