Teachers Are People, Too!

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

A fun way to help students learn that teachers are people toomeaning that teachers have lives outside of school – is to invite your own mother to class if you can.

Ever “put out the red carpet” for your mom to meet your students? You may have celebrated her yesterday if you live in the US and other parts of the world that recognize Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May each year. If your mom traveled to see you this past weekend, she may even still be in town and planning to stay another day or two. Maybe not.

It’s unlikely that you can coordinate a visit on such short notice, but if you like the idea of “sharing” your mom with your class, plan a visit for another time.

My mother was one of my best teachers. She visited my class. I miss her; especially I did yesterday on Mother's Day.

My mother was one of my best teachers. She visited my class. I miss her; especially I did yesterday on Mother’s Day.

Meanwhile, you might want to copy and send your mother a poem that I wrote in honor of my mother, if you like it and it suits your family. The poem is not directly related to Mother’s Day and I’ve revised the last line to encompass ALL mothers everywhere. The poem is based on definitions in the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary.

Oh, the Meaning of Mother!

In the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary

you’ll find Mother just after moth-eaten,

How biting…moth-eaten means damaged and time-worn,

but Mother endures!

Count the dictionary definitions…

a quality or condition giving rise to another,

as in Necessity is the mother of invention.

How inventive was the life of my mother!

All mothers are connected through seasons of life

to the tides of mother earth,

to the binds of mother country,

to the bidding of mother figures.

Oxford calls older women sources of nurture and support.

The dictionary definitions of mother end with mother wit

and common sense,

For mothers everywhere, that’s a perfect fit!

Seeing Teachers as People

Whether or not you are a mother (or a father) yourself, you may have had the experience like I have of bumping into one of your elementary school students away from school – at the market, for example – when the student didn’t recognize you.

It’s funny that some children have trouble seeing teachers as people with lives outside of their classroom walls. Let’s look at some of the reasons why…

…One reason may be that educators are restrained from showing our personal sides – restrained by professional codes of conduct, time restrained, curriculum-driven, over-worked (and many would say underpaid). When we and our students share the same space we are usually at center stage in the classroom, not out in the community zipping about alone or with families of our own.

Showing a Personal Side

So, here’s a question to consider…can we enhance our positive impact on K – 5 students by bringing our personal selves into our professional settings? That is, of course, in ways that conform to codes of conduct we’re expected to honor.

I believe that the answer is YES – a carefully controlled YES – but a definite YES! One way to make our personal selves known to our students is by telling true stories about ourselves – at thoughtfully chosen times and with specific intent.

A teacher and her mother dress in prairie costumes to help students learn about pioneer days in the US.

A teacher and her mother dress in prairie costumes to help students learn about pioneer days in the US.

I’ve worked with a teacher for several years who invites her mother to class each spring to team teach – in attention-getting prairie costumes – as part of a unit on discovery of the Oregon Trail in the western US.

When I introduce a writing assignment that challenges children to plan and draft a personal narrative – a story about something that actually happened to them in their (short) lives, I promise to share a story that’s true about me to help them get ready to write.

One story I share is titled, Tell Me Again, Mom. It’s the true story of my daughter’s adoption. The fourth graders who hear this story each year really enjoy it. I know so because my narrative generates a lot of questions and more importantly, some excellent student writing.

Other teachers have endorsed this teaching strategy, too.

One fourth grade teacher I’ve worked with for several years told me of the story she tells her class about how she hated to read until she turned age ten. That was when her fifth grade teacher at the time invited her to dramatize different storybook characters from books assigned. The freedom this teacher felt in bringing characters to life, she says, sparked her love of reading, a love that continues to this day. This gifted fourth grade teacher delights in telling this personal story just before she hands out a list of recommended summer reading at the end of the school year.

When we share our personal stories with students who sit before us day after day, we invite them into our lives almost as if they were part of our family…and they usually respond with love and respect.

That’s why telling true stories about you can be an effective way to catch and keep your K – 5 kids’ attention.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Please send comments about how you’ve shared your personal life with your students and stop by Wednesday for Mid-Week Focus. 

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students are having trouble writing connecting sentences between the beginning, middle and end of a story.

Solution: Show toy airplanes, pretending to make them "take off" across notebook paper. Explain to the class that stories, like airplanes, require clear "flight paths."

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