A few weeks ago I attend the Fire Up student teachers conference. I was able to attend three sessions that got me thinking about the kind of teacher I want to be. I attended sessions on how best to deal with difficult situations, how to embrace mistakes, and fostering a growth mindset that left me with the most to think about.
The first session about dealing with difficult educational situations really reminded me about how important relationships are. He spoke about how at some point there is going to be a situation where you say the wrong thing or you have to address an issue that is causing problems. The better the relationship that you have built with the student or parent the better the outcome the situation will have. It brought me back to the idea that I heard during my teacher assisting seminar, that students do not care what you know until they know that you care. I want to take the first month of the semester to spend the time getting to know everyone of my students and finding something about them that I can relate to. I also want to work on building a positive relationship with parents. I’m not sure what this will look like yet. I imagine it taking the form of calling to introduce myself before the school year starts and making periodic phones calls throughout the year. I also think a quick email home to parents at the end of the week would be a good idea. This is the area that I want to work the most on as I get my own classroom.
As I think about the other two sessions a common theme emerged about embracing mistakes and using those to help build upon what we are doing in class. I want my students to see that mistakes are a part of the learning process and something to be celebrated and not something to get dragged down by. I want to build up the idea of a growth mindset with my students. I want them to see that mistakes are what help them learn and that we often in fact learn more from mistakes than when we get the right answer on our first try. This is going to be a tough sell for students to embrace because students are trained to always get the right answer as soon as possible and if they do not it somehow says something negative about their intelligence. Right now I do not have all the ideas about how to set up this types of classroom. After these presentations I have a renewed interest in finding out how to do it and more resources to help me than I had before.
Overall, I think the Fire Up Conference helped me to see in what areas of my classroom norms I am happy with and where I still want to grow more. I really excited to see where my students will be able to go once I learn more about how to best support their learning.