Every year begins with a fresh set of names on your roster, students you don’t know, and past teacher inputs. I find the later the most difficult and frustrating part about getting to know my new group of students. Previous teachers mean well when they stop by your room and say “watch out for that one” or “oh you have so and so…good luck”. I automatically get the feeling of dread before I have ever met the student or had a chance to see how they fit into my classroom. I am just as guilty! I have had difficult students over the years and when the new grade asks for recommendations about the student, I would unload all of my frustrations about the students behavior and not give them enough credit for the areas that they did well in. I have made the face above when talking to other teachers about a particular student. This year I decided I am not going to influence other teachers about my past opinions of students; I was not going to allow their input to influence my opinion of my new students.
I saw this quote on a friends Facebook page and it really spoke to me. “Don’t be the teacher that relies too heavily on what the previous teacher said about that kid. Maybe that child just needs a fresh start and…YOU!!” – @teachingandmuchmoore
In January last year, a teacher on my campus came to me to let me know I was getting one of her students. She was apologizing because he was no longer eligible to stay in her class and he had to be moved to my classroom. She let me know her concerns about his math skills and that he had always been difficult in her classroom, talked a lot, slept, and that he was a fighter. That same week, his other teachers were sending out emails asking if he was disruptive in others classes or sleeping the entire period. I was now really concerned. After meeting this student, I realized he was harmless. He loved my classroom and did all of his work for me. I never had to redirect him or make him wake up to do his work. I was worried for nothing.
On the first day of school this year, the bell rang at 4:00 and in came running this student. It was his first day of High School Algebra and he wanted to thank me for being a supportive teacher last year. He said I made a difference! He had a rough home life, and he felt like I truly cared about him. For me that is what teaching should be about. Not relying on someone else’s judgment of our students, but building relationships with students to show them your passion for teaching and that you care about their success and future. Let’s work this year to build our own relationships with our students, and give them a chance to grow in our classrooms. We make a difference!