The Most Important Work
The most important work for the new school year isn’t setting up a picture perfect classroom, and it’s great to be Google Certified, but even that is not the most important way to prep. Even if we weren’t just coming back from a year and a half of pandemic education, the most important way to prep is what is happening inside of you as the educator, developing your core values, and thinking of ways to integrate them throughout the year and curriculum.
If you follow me on my socials or read any of my work, you might find that I’m passionate about empowering teachers, students and their families for stronger school communities. This has always been my mentality as an educator. How do we help grow our students socially and emotionally? How do we include families? How do we grow a stronger school community?
Start with Restorative Practices
Maybe your school is already implementing PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions Support) programs. Even if your school has interventions set up, how well is your school communicating their ideas and impacts with you? With your families? Until we completely understand these as educators, they don’t make a lot of sense for us as individuals working toward a community plan/goal.
The Intersection of SEL and Culturally Responsive Teaching
I recently sat down with Dr. Brandon Beck about his book, Unlocking Unlimited Potential and one thing I really appreciated about his book was the importance he placed in sharing how we can’t have healthy social emotional learning without culturally responsive teaching practices.They go hand in hand, and if they don’t, SEL won’t be very effective. If reaching our students and their families to grow our school community is important, then we have to be purposeful in including them into our vision and core values. Are we helping them see how the what we are teaching fits into their lives and aligns with their own goals? Do they feel welcome? Are we constantly growing with the needs of our communities?
Another thing that really impressed me with Dr. Beck’s philosophy was developing a classroom set of core values with their students, then mount on their walls, and talk about them with their classes everyday. It’s not just for decoration, it’s something that classroom communities can reflect on daily. It’s something that can anchor every single thing taught and even hold each person (including the teacher) accountable.
Something Dr. Beck and I have in common is choosing songs and incorporating music. Every year, before the new school year begins, I think about inspirational music that can be played throughout the year. I think of artists from diverse backgrounds so every learner will feel represented and also learn something outside of of their own normal.
Here are a few songs to ponder:
Choosing Curriculum that Doesn’t Add Trauma
For the last year, I have been working with Victoria Thompson and Dr. Ilene Winokur about choosing lessons in the curriculum that will not add more trauma to our students. We have interviewed educators and education technology companies about their missions to support all learners in our Courageous Conversations in EdTech Broadcast.
If you’d like to follow leaders in education who are doing, helping, and sharing their work, I recently included them in this blog.
Relationships, family, and school communities are at the heart of my core values. To be honest, my classrooms have never been the cutest and I wouldn’t consider myself the most tech savvy, but when it comes to what reaches students and their families, I won’t stop talking or learning about! I hope I’ve shared resources that will help you to keep growing as well.
About The Author
Melody McAllister is a wife, mother of five, educator, and author. She and her family relocated to Alaska from the Dallas area in 2019. McAllister is 2017 Garland NAACP Educator of the Year and author of the I’m Sorry Story. She is also the Logistics Manager for EduMatch Publishing and Alice Keeler, LLC. McAllister has spoken at ISTE and ASTE about equity issues in education, and writes about her journey in her blog, HeGaveMeAMelody.com. If you would like to schedule an author read with your class, please contact her on Twitter or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Melody’s BookChat every Wednesday at 8pm EST at YouTube.com/melodymcallister