August 6, 2014

Good to Great


I. Am. Pumped. Up!

We have a new principal this year. And, he's adopted the motto "Good to Great!" Because, overall, our school is good. We have teachers who work hard and a warm environment and our test scores are pretty average for the demographic of children we serve. 

But, honestly, good's not good enough. 

I think I'm a "good" teacher. I think my co-workers respect me and I think the kids do, too. I think I have good ideas and my test scores are just fine. But, guess what? Good isn't good enough! 

I want to be GREAT! I want it more that anything. I want to be the kind of teacher who changes lives. I want to be the kind of teacher who every single parent wants their child to have. I want to be the kind of teacher who doesn't make excuses and inspires every single child in their class to succeed. 

So, I've been walking around for days repeating "Good to Great" in my mind. And, when you add in all the awesome PD we've had over the last week, I'm so pumped up!

We had our first day of school today and I can say with 100% honesty that this is the first time in 8 years that I wasn't a bit nervous! I was so dang excited to meet those kids and get them in my classroom! And, they are stinkin' adorable, y'all! So seriously cute. They were just all so happy to be there, which is awesome. 

I wrote a blog post the other day about setting the tone the first day and I'm happy to report that today was a night/day difference between my first day last year. (And, I can pretty confidently say that my attitude was the key factor here.) Was the day perfect? Of course not. But, I just have a different mindset. I know some of them are low and some of them have behavioral issues, but you know what? Who cares!! I am NOT going to complain about my kids this year. (Even on my blog.) 
I do NOT want to be one of those teachers again. I want to be GREAT. 

So, what did we do today?

Well, we started with Morning Meeting. The kids threw a little stuffed animal to each other and introduced themselves when it was their time to catch it. They thought it was super duper fun! Then, I showed them a PowerPoint all about me. (I will say that those kiddos LOVED seeing pictures of my family and things I enjoy. And, they could NOT stop telling me all about themselves! Ha! Which is actually perfect because they're going to make circle maps about themselves on Friday.)

Then, we had to take pictures for their student ID's and we went straight to brunch after that. (Also, we had a pretty lengthy discussion about what brunch means...) After brunch, I read them my very favorite first day of school book: First Day Jitters.

I read this every year and usually, when I get to the surprise ending, the kids are like "whaaa???" But, today, they just all burst out laughing. They thought it was so funny! And, during the whole book, we talked. I asked them questions and they discussed with their shoulder partners and they even were citing evidence in the text! On their own! Oh, Common Core, how I love you. (Never thought I'd type those words!) 

The only procedures we practiced today were walking in the hallway and using our class anchor songs for transitions. I decided to use "You've Got a Friend in Me"  by Randy Newman (from Toy Story) as our Morning Meeting/class song and I'm using "It's Your Life"  by Francesca Battistelli as their afternoon pack up song. I will also use "Send Me On My Way" by Rusted Root (from Ice Age and Matilda) as our clean up song. This is, hands down, my favorite management trick. There is nothing better than kids who do what they're supposed to do without you saying a word!!! Plus, I just think it's so adorable when they all sing along ;)

We did one other quick activity today. I heard a quote this week that stuck with me. "We can do hard things!" So, we talked for a few minutes about what that means. I told them that third grade was going to be hard at times, but they can do it. They will do it. Then I gave them all an index card and had them write CAN on it. They got to decorate it however they wanted, too. It was a perfect first day activitity because it was quick and simple! 

I added the quote to the top of one of my boards and then stapled all their CAN cards around it. It adds some color to the wall and it'll be a great reference for kiddos who are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. You better believe I'll remind them to look up there. Last year, I started having my kids write CAN at the top of every single test they took. And, y'all, it helped. They would sit there and give themselves a pep talk! Some of them even started writing "You can do it!" Or "I can make an A!" Warms my teacher heart, for real. So, that will definitely be something we do this year, too. I don't want kids who do good, I want kids that are motivated and do GREAT things. 

After we made our cards, it was time for dismissal. A quick, fun day. I don't want to brag or anything, but one little boy did tell me that I was the greatest teacher ever in the world ;) I wonder if he'll still have that opinion after he spends more than three hours with me, ha! But, I did tell my kids that I was the luckiest third grade teacher because I got them in my class and I truly, truly believe that. 

So, I guess I just want any teacher out there who may be reading this and may be about to start school soon to know that "Good to Great" has really motivated me this year! If you feel tired or overwhelmed (and it's easy to do because we all know the beginning of the year brings a lot of stress), just start saying this in your head. Especially during times when you're frustrated or stressed or want to take the easy way out of a situation. It really, really helps. 

For me, that's one day down and many more to go. 

I can't wait. 

(And I give you my absolute promise that there will be no more sappy blog posts from me on this blog for a long time!)


Erica said...

I seriously loved reading this post. You have such a positive attitude and that's something I really hope to have {and keep} through my journey!

The Blossoming Teacher