“How do I say this in a way that everyone will understand?” This is a question I ask myself every time I speak in class. As an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teacher, clarity is always my focus. However, this is easier said than done. As teachers, the odds are school was something we enjoyed, maybe even something that came easy to us. But that’s not the case for everyone and it’s something I always try to keep in mind when planning a lesson.
Every morning, I have three grades of children pile into my classroom, ready to learn and talk about how they can make a change in our school, our community, and our world. We call these groups our Community Groups, and we spend one half hour each morning working with these groups to teach character education.
President Trump’s first address to Congress last month was a reminder of the important role education plays in the future of our country. Many of my students are the children of immigrants, and this year I know that it will be more critical than ever to highlight the importance of empathy, inclusion, and community in my classroom. Something I know many other teachers are thinking about as well.
Following a contentious debate over our new Secretary of Education, it is crucial to keep empathy in mind when we engage with one another.
We may not use the word “empathy” with our kindergarteners at Beacon Elementary School, the preK-3 school in the Detroit area where I’ve taught for 32 years, but we still try to teach it, by encouraging them to think of how their actions impact others.
I was born and raised in the poor countryside of Tay Ninh province in Vietnam, where a proper meal was hard to come by and studying was the least of parents’ concerns. However, I was luckier than most — my parents believed my education should be a priority.
When I was a primary school student, I found school to be quite boring. Teachers mainly lectured the class while we took notes. I couldn’t help but wonder if learning could be more interesting. So, I set out to become a teacher who created a more engaging approach to learning.
The first day of school is never easy. But when it’s also your first day as a teacher, in a new country, teaching a foreign language, it’s even more so. I remember walking into class for the first time as a teacher and feeling more nervous than I had ever felt as a student. I truly felt like a stranger in a strange land.
One of the hardest things any teacher has to grapple with first is: how do I create the best environment for learning so every child feels secure in taking risks and exploring their innate creativity? For that, it all comes down the culture you build within your classroom. The question is, how do you do that?
When people ask me how I came to win the 2015/2016 Teacher of the Year award for North Carolina, I first point to the amazing teachers, mentors, dean, and my parents who lifted me up when I needed it…and pushed me forward when I needed that too 🙂 But I also point to an app we all know and love: ClassDojo. How has an app meant to bring teachers, parents, and students together helped me in my teacher journey? I put it to a couple key things.
As educators like myself prepare to kick off the first parent-teacher conferences of the year, many of us are thinking about how best to build relationships with the parents and other caring adults our students’ lives. Academic research shows time and time again that parental engagement has an outsized impact on a student’s success. It’s important for all the adults to stay connected with what’s happening in a child’s life at school and at home.
Did you know Halloween is the most shared moment on ClassDojo? It’s true! Two times as many photos, videos, and messages are shared on Halloween than any other day of the year. That’s a lot of moments! And one little monster is the reason why…we’re talking about MOJO of course 🙂
Making the transition to 5th Grade three years ago was a little challenging. After teaching Kindergarten for six years, I quickly came to realize that in 5th grade teaching kindness is just as important as any other content area. Teaching empathy and kindness in my classroom does not mean lectures, or essays or laying down the law. I model kindness by how I treat my students, resolve conflict, and respond to world events.
One of the most impactful ways I bring this to life is the Kind Kids Club. What is it and how can you create one in your own classroom? Here are some ideas!
How to create your own Kind Kids Club…