Mindsteps Mentor: Breakthroughs Happen...Just Not on Your Schedule | Mindsteps Inc.

Mindsteps Mentor: Breakthroughs Happen…Just Not on Your Schedule

Breakthroughs HappenDear New Teachers,

Congratulations on completing your second month of teaching. In one respect it probably seems as if you were just setting up your classroom awaiting the arrival of your students. From another view, I’m sure it seems as if you have been at this for many months. You are experiencing the weird world of the school calendar where time appears illogical at times.

Your enthusiasm for teaching your students and developing your content is impressive. You arrive early every day and stay late reviewing the plans you made with colleagues and monitoring the progress ofyour students. You have created alternative assessments for students with special needs and have designed unique enrichment challenges for students who demonstrated early mastery ofcontent. Your log for parent contacts is growing, too, which shows a commitment to keeping families informed of bothfavorable and necessary messages. You have amazing energy! Keep that positive spirit. It can be contagious.

I commend you on your presentation at Back-to-School Night for parents. You appeared professional and confident in greeting parents at the door with a smile and a firm handshake. When you thanked the parents for coming to meet you and for sending you such hard-working, motivated students, parentswere beaming all over the room. Your contact information and content overview pages reflected precision and detail and provided a guide for the academic journey. It was a good idea to include details about completing work after absences and information about retaking assessments. Your delivery was smooth with smiles and some humor, and I heard parents complimenting your organization and competence on the way out of your room.

I am also impressed by your response to the student who asked to be a social media friend with you. Without discouraging the student or causing embarrassment at the request, you explained that you would prefer to maintain a positive teacher-student classroom relationship. When you turned the conversation back to academic matters, you clarified the boundary that needs to exist.

By now, you are facing frustrations over the students who are not completing work or showing progress. I know that you expect every student to demonstrate growth, and now you are seeing that it is not an easy task when you are responsible for so many students. You are not alone in this frustration. Every dedicated teacher struggles with this concern. However, your goals and high expectations are admirable.

Although each student is represented by a line in your gradebook, each individual enters your classroom with a completely different life experience, knowledge base, family dynamic, and learning style. To complicate matters, we are often unaware of these factors as well as each student’s personality, motivation, and attention span. Every child is distinct in multiple ways.

Student readiness sometimes takes a year, or it might take more than a year before a student commits toacademic challenges. Remember that you have several months with your students to develop skills- academically, socially, and emotionally, and you are a central figure in that gradual development. Try for that breakthrough every day and know that it might not happen on your schedule.

Best wishes,
Tom

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