St Louis, MO, Educator Jeffery Dean, gives an insight on being a teacher, advocate for students and preparing everyone for that big bell ring.

Educator Jeffrey Dean

            In less than two weeks, a new school year will begin. As an educator, I try to self reflect on my highs and lows from the previous year. No matter how much i have evolved, there is still room for improvement. One of the most important things that I have learned throughout my career is classroom management.  You can be the most intelligent teacher on campus, you can even have the most genuine concern for the students but if you cannot connect with them on a personal level, you are doomed from the start.

            When I first started teaching ( student teaching to be exact) the kids gave me the hardest time ever. It didn’t help that I looked just as young as them either. I would tell kids to be quiet or sit down and that made them talk louder or run around more.  Then, when I would observe another teacher, those exact same  students would be little angels.

 I was baffled from my observations. I also noticed that with the interactions between these teachers and students, the teachers would talk about things that the students were interested in. “Did you see that Lakers game last night?” “Have you released any new music lately?” “I was at the volleyball game last night, you ladies did great!” “This guy in this story is a great baseball player like you, Tim you may like this book.”  The kids faces would light up and whatever the teacher asked them to do, they did it.

            With this new information in mind at the time, I had a new approach for how I would connect with my children for the following years. Most importantly, I would get to know my students on a more personal level. I would create “ice breaker” games that would tell me interesting things about each student. What they like and dislike; their favorite subject; number of siblings they have; dreams and aspirations; and things they have in common with other students in the classroom.

            I would also do a power point presentation about myself. Throughout the year I made it my goal to always relate back to things the students were interested in. Whether it be in general conversation or incorporating it in certain lessons or discussions about a topic to get them engaged in a class lecture.

When I had time, I would attend events they had at school and even purchase items from their businesses. I wanted to show them that I do care for them, not just academically but outside of the classroom as-well. Once I started implementing this strategy, 

 I saw a drastic change in my classroom management and the respect I received from my students throughout that year.

            After those first few days getting to know each other and building a bond with the students, I would set the ground rules and expectations for my class immediately. Making kids feel special and important will take you far. It will also build potential long-lasting relationships or admiration for you as well. You never know what these kids go through at home, so someone showing genuine interest in them could make their day.  It is important to get students input on rules as well to make them feel just as important in the classroom. I had to learn to not waiver on any of my demands.

Kids must understand that you mean what you say and they are held accountable for their actions. Once you have completed your first year of teaching, from then on you understand that the first two weeks of the school year sets the tone for the rest of the year. 

I hope you have a blessed and successful school year.

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