Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Dear Readers,

What does that word mean to you as an educator?

(a letter to my 8th grade students during the holidays)

(student decorated bulletin board)

Recently, I have heard the following statements from some of my 8th grade students:
  • "Ms. Gross, I am going to miss you next year. You're the only teacher who truly accepts us for who we are."
  • "Ms. Gross, we missed you today. Hope you're feeling better!"
  • "Ms. Gross I am going to miss you next year."
  • "Thanks for helping me out today."
I have found myself saying the following statements to some of my 8th graders:
  • "I want you to check in with me so I know you are feeling okay."
  • "I know when you are ready to talk to me, you will."
  • "Let's talk about this. I don't want you to be worried or upset."
  • " ______ can you stay back and talk to me for a moment?"
As educators, we need to focus on the "whole child". Not only does that include academics, but the social emotional as well. Before our students can tackle the academics, they need to feel safe, cared about and accepted for who they are. 

(a favorite gathering spot in my classroom)

  • One of my favorite moments of the day is 8th grade lunch. I ALWAYS have students in my classroom and it has been a time for building rapport, mentoring and learning.
  • Prior to weekends, breaks, etc. I leave a few minutes at the end of class to give them 10 seconds to share any plans they might have. 
  • I attend sporting and music events to support them outside the classroom.
  • I include them in instructional decisions when appropriate.
  • I ask them what video games they play, will watch a show they currently watch or listen to music they recommend.
  • I recommend books they may like.
  • I read books they recommend.
  • Each day is a fresh start and a new day.
  • I give them my time. Before, during, after school. Whenever I can.
  • I listen. I let them talk without interrupting.
  • I show empathy because their worries are important to them and should not be dismissed by adults.
  • I do not take things personally. 
These are a few of the ways I build a family community of learners in my classroom.

(Genius Hour exploration corner earlier this year)

  • Do you make time to get to know your students' interests? 
  • Do you start each day with a positive outlook?
  • Do you listen to your students?
  • Do you show empathy toward your students?
  • Do you get to know them outside the classroom?
  • Do you validate their feelings, worries, etc.?
  • Do you accept them for who they are?
Thank you to all the students who have taught me so much! Thank you to all the educators who accepted me for who I was as a student. (Refer back to an early post regarding my 1st grade experience.)

Stay safe and warm on this snowy day!