Tag Archives: kindness

Teacher Desk Essentials

desk

Now that teachers are back at it, here’s the very important, very necessary list of items every teacher needs, no – can’t live without, in their desk.

This is the one place you can call your own, your own little personal space. They have their desk and you’ve probably decorated your walls for them. This desk is yours – a container for memories and pick-me-ups.

Students may try to gain access, do not let them look. No getting something out of it for you. Don’t let them take a peek. Having a few surprises at hand might end up changing their day from mediocre to awe inspiring.

So with what to fill that old, splitting, pealing, well worn desk?

Here are eleven I consider to be must-haves.

1. Breath Mints. Mints because while many of us enjoy our morning coffee, our students do not appreciate the coffee breath that comes with it. Even worse might be that amazing hoagie you had for lunch filled with garlic and onion goodness that’s left your breath, well, a little ripe. If you care about helping them one-on-one, then you’re going to have to care enough to try to be a bit minty.

2. Chocolate / Candy / Guilty Tasty Pleasure. You deserve it! Next time you’re at the grocery store go on down the candy aisle and stash a bag of chocolate in your cart. Maybe two in fact. Then take that bag and stuff it far up in your desk drawer. Just when you’ve forgotten it’s there and you had a less than stellar day, go ahead and have a bite (or two).

Also, if you’re a friendly soul, and you should be, offer some chocolatey goodness to a colleague when they’re having a tough day. Perhaps they will offer some yummies when your time comes.

3. Spare Set of Shoes. Your feet are going to hurt. Maybe they already hurt. Mine do. Go out and buy that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing that speak to you. Go ahead, permission granted. Then place them at the bottom of your desk to replace the ones that perfectly matched your outfit, however cause pain to shoot up your legs if you get up from your chair for more than a minute and a half. Remember, you so deserve those pair of shoes.

4. EZ Grader. I know that having an app to accomplish this task might be more impressive, however there’s nothing wrong with having this trusty tool at the ready. I think I have three at this point. Used to quickly determine grades by sliding to the correct number of problems, this handy little product is a must have and needs to be close at hand. Your students might also swoon at its ability to accurately report their grade and it doesn’t even require batteries.

5. Change for the Vending Machine. It’s the afternoon and there are days in which a little sugar rush is in order. Similar to the chocolate fix, this is an additional pick-me-up needed on occasion. Carefully decide however if combining a snack with the chocolate isn’t overkill, or just go for it and let the chips fall where they may.

Collect enough change and perhaps you can even convince your front office staff to order you some Chinese on a Friday as a super treat – please then go and remember #1.

6. Deodorant. You rushed out of the house this morning worrying about your family, your dog’s panicked look saying please let me out before you go required a bit more time in the backyard, and you then went back to the house for your lunch that you forgot. What you didn’t do is lather yourself with a swipe or two of deodorant. Similar to the breath mints, this one can’t be ignored or forgotten, so it’s better to have some backup just in case. Doesn’t take up much space, just try not to apply while standing in the front of the room.

7. Happy File. When students draw you a picture, when their parents have taken the time to send in a card of thanks, when your principal has written you an inspiring note recognizing your hard work, when good things come your way… put them into your Happy Feel Good File. Then also remember to take out a few examples to recall the impact you’ve made on students that have long since left your room and continued on to the next grade or even out of school.

8. Clown nose, Lone Ranger mask, magic kit. Use one of these (or all three) sparingly and whenever you pull open that squeaky drawer, heads will pop up. Eyes will widen wondering what your next move might be. Convince them that you’re someone else, combine it with an accent, and you’re certain to have them reminiscing at lunch about your crazy antics.

9. Stress Ball. For obvious reasons it’s a better idea to squeeze the ball than to unleash your frustration. Even better is to loan this to your students who have a bit of frustration pent up inside. Have more than two and one can be used for the all important toe crushing you can do under your desk as you appear calm from the waist up.

10. Music Option. When you need it a little quieter, try classical. When you need to inspire, try some jazz. When you need to develop camaraderie, go ahead and have a sing-a-long. Music can play a great role in your classroom and students won’t soon forget that Indonesian music you played that they had never heard anything that even come close to it. When they tell you they know if all, break out some big band and see how long they complain – they’ll come around, it just might take a few weeks.

11. Family Pictures. When you’re wondering why you’re still at it and how God could have possibly given you the patience you have found deep within yourself, take a look at the family that loves you and knows you are doing great work.

 I’m curious what you have in that desk of yours that others might find to be essential worthy. Please leave your comment. I look forward to adding yours to my list – I still have some room.

Offer A Smile to Start Your Lesson

Smiling is Light

Each morning I wait by my classroom door. I wait with a smile.

I hope that will make a difference.

You really can’t over emphasize the importance of that simple gesture.

I don’t ask my students if they have their homework or anything else that has to do with school. I don’t remind them about classroom rules as they sit down.

And I do have to remind myself at times to have the kind of human interaction I would want to have if I were walking into my third grade class. The first thing really shouldn’t be about writing in a journal or turning in last night’s homework – it should just be about a little kindness.

Often many of my students say good morning to me before I have a chance to say it first. We do in fact spend some time at the beginning of the year talking about the importance of kindness. And yes, reminders on this one have to happen occasionally.

But then it happens… a good morning shared by not just that one student whose day is almost always a challenge, but like dominoes the others behind him chime in too. A steady stream of greeting as they unpack their backpacks.

There’s a lot of joy in hearing that from a third grader. No matter how my morning routine has evolved over the last couple of hours, hearing them share some enthusiasm at the beginning of the day encourages me.

It erases my worries about the state tests that are coming closer by the day or the necessity of finishing the reading assessments.

I admit to you though, if my students don’t immediately get started on that morning work after they come into my classroom… it annoys me. However I remind myself that if it was me, I would choose to talk with a friend too.

I’m not a factory worker making widgets that have to meet some consistent standard. I don’t slap an Inspected by #47 sticker on their foreheads as they leave every day. That would be odd.

I just ask them how they are. How their weekend went. What the best part of last night was or how their little sister is doing.

If I can get a smile or laugh out of them, that’s even better.

Kids are honest. I think the younger they are, the more honesty you get in return. If they know that you care about how their night really went, you’re also going to get some interesting responses which in turn requires you to spend some time really listening to their stories.

The replies have reminded me that our job isn’t to teach objectives. Our job is to teach little people. Little humans. Children that have struggles and successes.

My students worry and are stressed. They know when things aren’t good at home and why that is. If their parents worry about money, so do they. If people at home let on that times are tough, they embrace that despair too.

Like little sponges, they’re taking it all in. It surprises me how resilient they really are as they endure what happens around them – whether at home, in the grocery store, or on the way to school.

Knowing this, I try to encourage conversation that’s upbeat. That doesn’t dwell on what isn’t, but what can be.

And I start that conversation by a simple hello and smile standing at my classroom door.

I’m curious and would love to hear what do you do in your classroom to start off the day?