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Monday / January 22

Going (Thoughtfully and Carefully) Back to School

I sincerely hope that anyone reading this had a wonderful and relaxing summer break filled with many opportunities to be with family and friends. I’ve come to realize that is not likely the reality for many of our kids, and I know that as we return to school, it will be very important to keep a broader view as we ponder the first minutes, hours, days, and weeks of the return to another school year.

Sometimes, it’s an innocent comment meant to explore with students what happened while they were away from school for those ten weeks. For those who did not experience warm and tender moments, who may have had limited familial connections, this may re-open some hurt that was pushed aside with each passing day. I’m not suggesting that no attention be given to kids who come from stable, blessed environments. I believe that the quality of the relationship that will be established over time will let the teacher get feedback and hear the excitement that some students are returning with.

More importantly, as you start back with your next group of students, it’s important to review all of the expectations that you will have for the upcoming school year, and that you will successfully build in to your classes and schools. Remember, students have been operating for as much as ten weeks in environments with a wide degree of allowable behaviors and some of those will need to be moderated so the positive learning environment can be quickly established. Don’t expect that all of the great things you or your colleagues may have done in previous years of school will automatically and instantly return to your students when they enter another school year (and even less so for those students beginning their school lives). Take the time to emphasize relationships with, and between, students. Recall some of the best moments of the opening month as reminders of what is needed going forward. Be with your kids during the non-structured times of recess and lunch during the first few days as you may notice some things that can be rectified before they grow. If there are specific expectations for locations or routines, review those in context with your students – if you can predict it, you can prevent it.

Mostly though, let your kids know how much you missed them – all of them – and how the break also gave you a chance to relax and re-charge your batteries. The start of the school year is often a challenging time. Knowing this, and taking the proactive steps to change the potential outcomes, will serve both you and your students very well. Welcome back to another amazing school year!

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Tom Hierck’s experiences as a teacher, administrator, district leader, department of education project leader, and executive director have provided a unique context for his education philosophy. Hierck is a compelling presenter, infusing his message of hope with strategies culled from the real world. His dynamic presentations explore the importance of positive learning environments and the role of assessment to improve student learning. He is the co-author of RTI Is a Verb. Schedule an on-site or virtual consultation, seminar, or workshop with Hierck today!

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