When it's time to go back to school we all get that deep down nervous feeling inside. Who are our kids? Will they love us as much as we love them? Then we start thinking about one million different things that we have to do to make the perfect classroom. What we really need to start with are lessons and conversations that build a classroom culture. It's important to pick a few at a time and master them before moving on. Don't feel pressured to start teaching standards on day one. In fact, you will get more learning achieved in the long run if you build a classroom culture of respect and caring first.
Consider starting with respect first. I spend the first few minutes of meeting students showing them how much I respect them. I get down on their level, shake their hand, make eye contact, smile warmly and show them how much I care and respect the fact that they just walked into my classroom. After showing students how much I respect them, I talk to them about respecting each other and me. Showing respect for teachers and other adults is such an important skill for success. I also show respect for my students by saying "Please", "Thank you", "Excuse Me", and other manners when speaking with them. This allows me to then request and expect the same from them. When a student is speaking with me and uses an unacceptable tone or phrase, I will say "Excuse me. Would you like to try again?" This gives them the opportunity to remind themselves of how to show respect. I also respect their feelings and don't embarrass them in front of their peers. My hope is through my modeling respectful behaviors they will copy those behaviors when dealing with each other and adults. Through our previous lessons we have discussed how to be respectful when listening to adults and I continue to review those behaviors daily.