Monday, August 31, 2009

You Can’t Teach Them Until You Know Them

Most teachers spend the last precious days of their summer vacations readying their classrooms to usher in the new school year. As they write out labels with names like Suzanne Ormond and Michael Calliente, they wonder about who these children are. What will they be like? How will I teach them? What will I teach them?

Our nature as industrious human beings makes us eager to get started. Over the summer, you might have read an idea that you want to try out or maybe you took a class and saw a strategy that you are dying to use. But before you dive headfirst into your curriculum, take the time to get to know your students.

What are they interested in? How do they feel about reading and writing? What are they excited about? What makes them feel nervous? What are their hopes and goals for this year? What do they seem to be able to do? What do they seem to struggle with?

For those of you worried about what you will teach this year’s students, fret not. You cannot know what to teach until you know who you are teaching. September is a time for learning the needs of the new group of students who sit before you. Great instruction reflects what good researchers we are and not until we know them will we be ready to teach them.

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