Saturday, February 24, 2018

Janine Pease

A new school year means starting fresh

Baawaa’lilaau - Gives Advice
As a professional in the field of education, I see the start of school as “the New Year.” It is truly a chance for a fresh start, to plan new lessons, to amend last years’ lessons and meet new students. There are new colleagues and new classrooms, giving a new view of students, resources and equipment. Really, the new school year has a fresh look to it.
For students of all ages, a similar set of qualities comes with the new school year. These include new teachers, new or different classmates, classroom location changes or a new school building, and turning to their studies – more demanding assignments. Finally, but perhaps more significant, is the student being older, taller and more mature. So, let’s take a look at each of these qualities.
Students have the chance to walk into a classroom with a new teacher or teachers. In our local school districts, there have been a new members to our corps of teachers, so many kids will have not only new teachers, but entirely unknown faces with new names. Children may experience uncertainty about their new teacher(s), as they will not know the rules, or how the classroom and courses are managed. For some, uncertainty can be exciting, but for others it can be a stressor. Parents can help this aspect of first week jitters by learning teachers’ names, even referring to teachers’ pictures in the Big Horn County News.
Classmate assignments are most often approached by schools with a concern for diverse learners in each classroom (not grouped by ability). Students may find their best friends in their classroom, giving them a sense of welcome and comfort. However, best friends may be placed in a classroom without their special friend(s), with new or even disliked kids. Caregivers must encourage their children to make new friends, renew old and trusted friendships, and give the other kids a chance for friendship. 
Taking a step into the next grade level or moving to the next building has both excitement and challenge. Kids know they are making a move upward to the next grade, most usually positive. However, the new classroom may feel a bit like squeezing your feet into new shoes; it may be uncomfortable for a while. Mom and Dad may need to rehearse going to that new location with them, and even walk with their kids to the new classroom for the first few days until they are accustomed to making all the right turns.
The new teachers will pose a puzzle of fairly major proportion. Kids have big questions about how the classroom works, what the rules are and how assignments will be graded. Kids who like adventure will welcome this time of newly organized classrooms and the orientation to tasks, grading methods and next-level assignments. Adapting to the new teacher(s) can be unpleasant for the child who deplores new situations and demands. Parents need to be sensitive to this, and recommend careful attention to new teachers’ directions. In the event of confusion, students must ask questions. Teachers welcome questions on assignments and have email addresses on the school website, where the student and the parent can ask questions. 
The new school year is full of promise and anticipation, which can be both exciting and stressful. For both parents and students, this is a time that demands some good communication, helpings of encouragement and patience. Best wishes for a school year of great promise, especially as we get started with the fresh new set of classmates, classrooms and teachers.