Updated: Aug 17, 2018
I am so excited to share a guest post with you from the amazing Rachel Murat. I met Rachel in person in the fall of 2015 at an ECET 2 conference in New Jersey. We bonded over a walk and talk about all things education. About a year earlier Rachel and I connected on Twitter and have been in contact ever since. I encourage you to follow her too! Mrs. Murat is a fantastic voice for advice when it comes to new teachers. Below is some advice that she has for new educators focusing on Maslow before Blooms. Now, for those of you who didn't just take Education Psychology, you can check a quick Khan academy video below.
This post is from her blog with her permission, of course! To check out more of Rachel's reflections be sure to check out her blog, All Things Social Studies.
Maslow before Blooms!
If you were to catch any of my tweets while I am in a chat, you would probably see at least one that said Maslow before Bloom every single day! I am a firm believer that curriculum doesn't matter if the social emotional needs of the students aren't met. No student will look back and remember a worksheet fondly. They will however, look back and remember that you invested in them as a person and that you took the time to get to know them. There are so many ways that you can go about doing this and I would argue that is the fundamental thing upon which everything in the classroom is built.
If you are in middle school or high school, I would offer that you do not spend the first day telling them what they can't do and how things are going to be run. They will hear that many times during the day and you have the chance to distinguish yourself and your class! Why not spend the time to get to know them? If you are in a school where most of the kids know each other, you can spend the time having them get to know you and you getting to know them. Do something silly that shows you can laugh at yourself! You might not need to do an ice breaker so they get to know each other. Whatever you do, remember that you only get one shot at making a first impression. You would be amazed at how far laying this foundation will get you during the year.
I also think it is important that the kids know that you are there for them as a person not just as a member of your class.
For example, ask how their weekend was when you first see them on Monday. Ask them how their game went the night before or wish them luck at that night's contest. Go to a concert, give them shout outs on social media. Smile and be a source of positivity for them. Be a cheerleader!
For the most part, I only teach juniors and seniors. Having said that, most students know who I am (if it's only by the name of the "crazy lady that says hi to everyone in the hallway"). I make it a point to smile at each student in the hallway and say hi to as many kids as humanly possible during the day. Many students have interacted with me many times before they even step foot into my classroom. Again, this goes a long way to success in the class.
You may think that this sounds like too much touchy feely for you, but let me share some stories with you and let you decide.
I have students who have NEVER passed a single Regents exam (ELA, Math, Social Studies or Science) pass my US History class, and some even achieved mastery (85 or above).
Why? Because I invested in them. I believed in them. I didn't give up when they put up their defense.
I have students who have never taken an AP class and generally aren't that interested in government want to take AP Government and Politics because they know that I will do everything I can to support them and that they are not defined by a score on a test, but their character in taking a class that is outside their comfort zone.
I have students that come back to visit me regularly. I have the children of students I had previously and they come in and say "My mom (or dad) said I am going to love you!".
I cannot stress enough that as the adult, you need to remember that often the kids who need love and attention the most are typically the ones that make it most difficult to do so.
As you begin your next journey in the classroom, remember that there are trying days, there are trying students and days you will want to give up. Please don't! We need you! The students in your community need you! I cannot stress this enough.
Go out and be awesome! You got this!