This teacher’s code

I do try to live by a set of principles especially when it comes to my classroom.  These are not in any order of importance but simply in order of how they popped into my mind.

1) Let my students know that I care.  You never know the whole situation of a child when they walk through your door.  Kids can be good at hiding things.  I want my students to know that I care about them and that I’m always there if they need someone to listen.

2) Celebrate successes.  I posted on March 9th about What you focus on, to more I celebrate successes in both behavior and academics the more students notice them as well, the more my classroom becomes a positive place.

3) Know the material and if you don’t learn it. So this fits me especially well as I posted on March 27th in Pretending my way through the day I’m not an expert at what I teach so I do the research I do the lessons I have the kids do to be sure I’m prepared.  Even when I think I know the material I often do the assignments I give the kids so that I know I’m prepared and because things change.  I taught middle school communication arts for nine years and in the first year I discovered that the rules for possessive nouns had changed.  I had not read the lesson before I began teaching and had to stop in the middle to look at it closer and tell the kids I’d made a mistake which leads me to –

4) Own up to your mistakes.  I’m human I make mistakes and I make sure I tell the kids I do, they need to know everyone makes mistakes.  I’ve had teachers through the years that act as if they are perfect and cover up any mistakes they made, it makes me crazy.  I’ve made mistakes grading before when students come to me and ask about it (though I require they do it respectfully as in “Mrs. D you marked this answer wrong and when we went over it in class it’s not.” instead of yelling out in class “Hey you screwed up” and yes I’ve had that happen and the issue at hand for me there is the respect and the fact that the student just disrupted the whole class.  When I do mark something incorrectly I fix it on the paper immediately and as soon as I can in the grade book.  If by chance I miss marking something wrong and the student lets me know I either let them keep the points or correct for full points rather than half points depending on what the question was worth  (this may change after reading Repair Kit for Grading.)  I also apologize to the kids when I make mistakes.  To me it’s important for them to hear that, to have a good model for apologizing.  (not I also apologize to my son when I’ve made a mistake or snapped at him for no reason)

5) Help every student in my class to achieve to the best of their ability, to fulfill their potential.  I really don’t think anyone should be teaching if this isn’t part of their persona teaching code.

6) Don’t ever purposefully embarrass a student and if you do it accidentally apologize (see #4).  I know that there are teachers that embarrass kids to get them to behave or do work and I want to ask does that actually work for you?  Do the kids change their behavior?  Some may but I’d lay odds that most don’t.  Not to mention you’re setting up an antagonistic relationship with that student and that is not the way to help them learn.

Well that’s it for now.  I may think of more and add them later, it could take days for this to be a complete post actually and it may never be because a teacher’s code should really be a “living document” changing as you get more and varied experience.

Written for DP Daily Prompt: I Walk the Line


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