For the first few weeks of summer, it's hard to forget about your previous class and think ahead to the coming school year. But after a few weeks of vacation, with plenty of time to relax and destress, thoughts began to turn to your next year's class. What will your new students be like? Will you bond and have a great year?
When I was teaching, I remember that this topic was on everyone's minds as the school year approached. Once I heard a teacher joke, "I had a great class last year, so I guess this is my year to have the class from you know where." Everyone in the room laughed, but as I walked away, I wondered if a subconscious belief like that might actually cause a teacher to have a tough year instead of a great year.... not be because the students ARE more difficult but because we EXPECT them to be more difficult?
Think about it. As soon as we receive our new rosters, we quickly scan them to see who's in our class. We see names that we recognize, and we frantically try to remember what we've heard about these students. "Oh no . . . Johnny's the one who was always clowning around in Mr. C's class" or "Tameka is that nice quiet girl who helps Mrs. D after school." We've already begun to make judgments about students we haven't even met!
What if statements like these are no more than self-fulfilling prophecies? If that's true, then perhaps we have far more impact on the type of class we get than we ever imagined!
How to Make this Year Your Best Ever
Every year I said the same thing on the first day, "Class, I have to tell you that I had a really awesome group last year, and I'll miss them. But the amazing thing is that every year, my new class is even better than the one before! I don't know how it's possible, but it's true. I can't even begin to imagine how amazing this class is going to be! I know we are going to have a great year together!" I say this with absolute sincerity because it's true! Maybe I just keep getting more effective as a teacher, or maybe this statement makes them want to be the best class ever, but it works!
When you scan your roster, be encouraged by the thought that another teacher's "problem child" may turn out to be one whom you cherish the most! That quirky sense of humor or that restless, inquisitive spirit is finally appreciated and the student just blossoms under your attention.
If the self-fulfilling prophecy is really at work in the universe, let's make sure it's working in our favor! Tell your students that you know they are going to be the most amazing class ever, and that's exactly what they'll become!