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Slicing every day in March!!

Developing relationships with students is a very important part of what teachers do at the beginning of the year. In fact, it may very well be the most important thing teachers do to make sure that the year goes well and learning happens for every student. As the year progresses, these relationships may change and thereby need to be nurtured and cultivated.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, teacher-to-student relationships don't gel right away. They take effort, intentionality and honesty for teachers to grow healthy relationships with some of the more challenging students in our classrooms.

Although it's already mid-March, I feel like I am just now developing relationships of mutual trust, respect and genuine appreciation with some of my students. I realize that the reason this has taken so long is because I let curricular demands get in the way of what's important.

However, the last couple of weeks I have begun to feel like my old self again. I'm more relaxed with my students. (Why I ever let that feeling go, is a question I ask myself all the time.) I ask questions when I start to get frustrated. This frustration usually comes from thinking that my students aren't listening when I give instructions. The truth is that most of the time I haven't clearly stated what needs to be done and they are confused. All it takes is a little patience to help a student get back on track.

So, this is what works: when I give a set of instructions I ask students to turn to a partner and tell each other what they're supposed to do. Then, I ask if they have any questions. After I answer their questions, I tell the kids that if they need support with a task, they can stay behind with me. A short talk or a quick review lesson usually takes care of whatever doubt they had and then they happily go off to do their work. Sometimes, just having a minute or two more to think about what they're going to do is all kids need to get started.

I've noticed that since I've started doing this my students level of stress, as well as my own, have diminished; they know I'm there to support and encourage them. We're in this together.

Usually a late night slicer!

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I share some questions I'm grappling with in my classroom. 

No answers. 

Just questions.

(1) What purpose do math stations serve in my classroom?

(2) How can I continue to engage writers without overwhelming them or me?

(3) How can I determine if my tangled readers are learning to be better readers from the books they choose to read?

(4) How can I strike a balance between student choice and making sure my students learn what they need to learn at any given time?

(5) Am I demanding too much from my students?

As I find responses and solutions to these issues, I will post some ideas on my blog.

Any thoughts are more than welcomed!