being a teacher, building community, community, new year, students

They Are Not Mine…Yet

image from icanread
image from icanread

I almost know all of their names.  All 118 of them.  Not because I have some magical brain penchant for memorizing names and faces.  Not because they all wear name tags.  No.  Every night I have pored over their faces, trying to remember each one, trying to figure out who they are.  Because I still teach strangers.  Strangers that I am trying to establish a community with, strangers I am trying to get to trust me.

So this week has been about them.  About why they love or hate reading.  About how they see themselves.  About how they react to picture book upon picture book as we try to weave a common thread.  And it seems to be working.  Slowly.  The stories are gently coming, the nervous laughter disappearing.  The hand raised a little faster.  We have a long way to go but ever so slowly the seeds have been planted, the foundation is being laid.

So today I will do my name competition; do I really know all of their names after just 3 days?  I will read another picture book as I rock in my chair and they share the tattered bean bags.  I will thank them for the few days we have spent together and wish them a happy long weekend.  I will hope for a smile, a high five, and a farewell, knowing that hopefully some day I will get to take these things for granted.  I will hope for a hallway greeting, a quick goodbye before the bus comes.  Little things that show the relationship we have built.  Those things that I miss so much.

I don’t know my students.  Not yet.  But it will happen.  Even if it feels like they will never be our kids.  They will.  They just don’t know it yet.

If you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.  The 2nd edition and actual book-book (not just e-book!) comes out September 22nd from Routledge, but rumor has it that it is out on Kindle already!

1 thought on “They Are Not Mine…Yet”

  1. Hi Pernille: thank you for sharing through your blog. I really enjoy reading it and have taken many notes! I have an honest question, because I m a first year teacher so you can imagine things are not flowing quite just yet — PS: I worked full time as a teacher last year, but as an intern and as a long term sub in different classroom throughout the year. So my honest question is re: “classroom management.” I actually found your blog through researching how to build classroom community instead of being a rule sergeant, so I have loved your posts about building community in the classroom. But I need some help with the nitty gritty.

    I actually strive for 10-15 mini-lessons tops, and let them work the rest on their own. But what do I do when they are not on task?

    For example, this past week (my 4th week this year, we started much earlier than you, and I do know all their names by now plus a bit about each of their preferences), I had to do my first consequence of the year. About 20 minutes into a 120 minute period, I had to threaten my class with staying an extra 3 minutes after bell ring if we couldn’t fully focus and get the initial stage of the work done for the next 10 minutes. I set the timer and that got them working. Three students tested the boundary by visibly and audibly turning to talk to their partner and I walked over and gave each of them a sticky note that said “wait with me after bell ring.” So we (most of us) got our 10 minutes of solid work done, then shared in whole class discussion and moved on to a group activity in pods, where they could talk amongst themselves and I circulated the room asking questions and checking progress, and we closed the lesson at the point I had expected (and needed truly) the lesson to end.

    However, I am unhappy. They were surprised I busted out the consequence and it caught them off guard. I know that worked in my favor, and I also know it is not sustainable. I cannot bust that out for my lessons next week because it will stop working.

    Any thoughts or feedback will be greatly appreciated!

    Many thanks.


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