Cindy & Alison Discuss How Teachers Helped Them Adjust to a New School Year
Be sure to listen to our episode about preparing for Back to School!
I have one teacher who stands out to me when it came to helping me with adjusting in my high school years. I unfortunately don’t remember a teacher who helped me with this during my elementary school years. It is sad for me to think back to those years and recall not one warm relationship like the ones that I give to my students today. Maybe it is because of this that I strive for strong relationships with the children and am passionate for giving them a warm and loving environment in which to thrive and learn.
My mom helped get me excited for the school year. She did everything that we talked about in our episode. She took me and my brother school shopping for new clothes and shoes. Summer was for fun and relaxation and we didn’t talk about the school year until close to the first day. It was wonderful that she gave this to me, especially since my teachers didn’t always provide it.
I fondly remember one teacher in high school who would always check in with me, not only in the first few days of school but throughout the year, my chorus teacher. He always could get a sense of when I wasn’t feeling happy or lacked confidence and he would call me to his office and we would chat. Sometimes I would fib and tell him everything was fine. It is so hard to open up about emotions at that age but once I realized that he was coming from a place of compassion I was honest with him. He helped me realize through his kind words and support that I was worth something and made going to school easier. I started looking forward to school just so I could go to chorus and I knew that if I was having a bad day that I had a teacher who would be there for me.
I had more “first day” experiences than other children. I attended 4 elementary schools in 6 years. Twice, I switched schools in the middle of a school year so social groups were already established. I experienced both warm welcomes and indifferent nods to an empty seat. There are two teachers who stand out in my memory. One is memorable for her lack of warmth and understanding while the other was the kindest teacher I would ever have.
I moved in December of my 3rd grade year. The teacher whose class I entered mid-year had no regard for what I was experiencing. She was moody and unpredictable. As young as I was, I remember wondering why she taught if she obviously doesn’t like children. Here is one example of what went on that year - The school I left hadn’t started teaching cursive writing yet. My new teacher didn’t care that I hadn’t learned it – she refused to accept any work from me unless it was written in cursive. This happened in a time when parents didn’t challenge authority so my mother taught me cursive writing in one night. That teacher’s lack of understanding, empathy and kindness made my 3rdgrade year one filled with anxiety. I was beyond happy when summer came.
I entered 4th grade in that school with much trepidation. For all I knew, the attitude from the prior year was school wide. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I still remember my 4thgrade teacher, Mrs. G., with great fondness. I remember her sincere smile and her warmth. Mrs. G. seemed to sense that I was nervous about being there and what would be expected. She smiled at me a lot and engaged me in casual conversation. She was warm, calm and approachable. Oh, how I would like to thank her for making me feel comfortable in that building for the first time. I wish she could know that some of what I teach today about interactions with children is inspired by what I remember in her classroom.