Today marks a milestone in the life of my mother and baby boomers everywhere. Like many she’s been “retiring” for about 5 years but today she has officially started her 60th first day of school and 42nd first day as a teacher and also her last first day.
This generation and my mother know the word loyalty better than many. They know what it is to show up year after year and stay committed to a position, team, and organization.
To glean on her years of wisdom I asked her to share her key tips as it relates to leadership. Quickly you can see how her tips overlap to the business world and to leaders everywhere!
1. Words of Weight
Each day I walk into the classroom, I try to remember that my encouraging words may be the only positive words my students hear that day. My smile might be the only smile a child receives that day.
2. BE Fully Present
I make sure I have a positive, personal interaction with each student every day. Give a high 5 or fist pump to each student as they depart for the day. BE in hall or doorway to greet each student individually as they arrive each morning.
3. Clarity Breeds Commitment
I begin each day with a motivational quote, we discuss it and apply it to their lives. Then I cover the day’s schedule. Students need to know what is happening. They don’t like uncertainty.
4. Let Consistency Be Your Fuel
I spend the first week of school explaining our routines. I try as much as possible to stick to these routines. Again, students need consistency and predictability in such an uncertain world.
5. Release Responsibility Whenever Possible
When possible give student’s ownership. I say, “It’s America……Let’s Vote.” Let them vote on which book to read aloud and have them vote on the 5 most important classroom rules that should be followed (with teacher guidance). Also have them vote on which class review game should be played, what games should be played at the classroom party, etc.
6. All Work and No Play Leads to a Dull Day
Even though I treasure my duty-free lunch, each Tuesday, I have “Tuesdays with the Teacher” and a small group of students eat with me in the classroom. This is on a rotating basis and ALL students get to do this once a month and it is not just a reward for the “good” students.
7. In a World of Negativity, Speak Positivity!
Stop instruction a few minutes before that final bell and that chaotic dismissal time, allowing time for celebrations. Make sure the last words a student hears as they walk out the door are positive.
Now more than ever our society needs committed, supportive teachers in the lives of students. So many of our students are struggling due to dysfunctional homes and come to school with so much negative baggage.
Never underestimate the power and influence of a teacher. It carries more weight than many of us will probably ever know.
“On your worst day on the job, you are still some child’s best hope.”
– Larry Bell
~ Mardy Schaefer
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