Ahhh…the first days of a new school year. Thirty-nine new students, dazed, confused, but full of anticipation, came through my Grade 6 door last week. Moments before, I watched them through the window of my classroom. With their shiny new bags filled with celophane-wrapped school supplies, they eagerly greeted each other as they huddled around their lockers. As I surveyed the scene I reflected on the wonderful opportunity ahead. Of the nearly seven billion people on this planet, I get the chance to learn about and appreciate thirty-nine more of them. How cool is that?
Like most teachers I begin every year with an understanding of expectations: my students’ expectations for me, mine for them, and those they have for each other. As I see it, my number one priority is my relationships with my students. To get these off to a good start we spend a few days exploring our expectations for each other. We talk about our goals for the year and how our expectations will support these goals.
Students brain storm their ideas and generate lists of expectations for the different relationships they will have throughout the year. As you can imagine this list can get rather long, even when we account for repeats. It would be difficult to keep track of and remember them all so the final stage to this process is to help my students see that nearly any reasonable expectation in a relationship can fit into one or more of three simple, but very profound ideas: Taking care of yourself, taking care of others, and taking care of this place.
And so we proceed through our exciting year together with opportunities everyday to practice being the best people we can be by learning to care for life’s great treasures: ourselves, others, and the world around us.