Sunday, August 2, 2015

Building the Foundation

A new year, a new start and what better time to build the foundation for an incredible year. This is my 10th year teaching and each year it seems like I start off in a panic and a rush because are things really ever ready at the beginning of the year. I am determined to start this year off in a different way. I am a special education teacher and I work with students in 4th-6th grade that are inclusion/resource students. I had this bulletin board in my room last year after being inspired at ISTE 2014 by Angelia Maiers and the You Matter message. There were times the students would come in the room defeated and discouraged because they were having difficulty. Instead of facing that difficulty, they wanted the answer or to just give up. Sometimes they would even come in down and speaking negative about themselves. I directed them to the board. Often times I would have them read it out loud or at least to themselves. Time after time, it helped them to focus on the task at hand and to quit speaking negative. If a student was upset, it also helped them to calm down. It's hard to read these positive affirmations and stay mad. This year I am also writing notes to mail out the second week of school to not only introduce myself to my case load students, but to also tell them they matter! I also added this growth mindset bulletin board that I saw on Pinterest.  Students can learn when students feel safe. They learn when they know that you believe in them and that they have something to contribute. This is the foundation to build on this year...reminding students that they have a voice and have something to contribute. I'm also doing a new student survey/interview with them towards the end of the first week.  Here is a link to the survey:3-2-1 Beginning of the Year Survey

Last year was the inaugural year at my school. We were an assortment of teachers from three main schools with a few others here and there. The struggle last year was for those of us from here and there to learn where we fit into the pieces of the other groups. One thing at the end of the year the principal at that time encouraged me to do was to ask for feedback from the general education teachers. It was a scary yet positive experience. I think as teachers it is difficult to open ourselves up for criticism, even that which is constructive. I learned through the process, we all have strengths and weaknesses, when we share those with our team members with the intent of productivity, we can find help with our weaknesses. An example for me, is making a schedule. Some teachers can take all of the pieces and fit it in a puzzle. I'm not one of them...I tend to over extend myself, which leaves me without a lunch or planning (and burned out and frustrated at the end of the day). This year two of the teachers who I sat down with last year have offered this week to help me take my pieces of the puzzle and make a workable schedule. It takes time to build relationships with other staff members. Helping each other with our strengths and weaknesses though that relationship builds a team over time. 

Have a great year teachers! 
Remember you matter and you are making a difference! 


  1. Relationships are definitely important. Both of your bulletin boards show that - you care about your students and how they see themselves. That is an important first step in building the foundation for learning!

  2. Great post, Melissa! Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and modeling for us how to use feedback to be better for our students. Have a great year!

  3. The foundation that you're building is so important. Students need to know that they matter and that their voice will be heard. Thanks for sharing!

  4. It's my 10th year too! Happy Decade! :) I love the 3-2-1 Survey. It's simple and will provide helpful info. Have a great year!