Homecorner Conversations: Mary, 3rd Grade Teacher

Homecorner Conversations: Mary, 3rd Grade Teacher

First and foremost, what is the difference that knowing children deeply makes?
Mary: You inspire them, and they inspire you—we become a family. In fact, I'm still in contact with all of the kids I've ever had. They're safe to learn if they can trust their teachers and come up to talk to them about anything. They know that I love them, and that's the most important part. 

How do you go about getting to know your children as individuals? 
A lot of people have asked me, "What is it that you do in your classroom to get these results?" I love the children. I let them "in" on me, so that they can relate to me. We share; I let them know who I am so that I can know them. That's the most important part of my teaching—the connection with the children. When they make a connection with me here in 3rd grade, they know that connection is forever. 

And how do you bridge the social-emotional piece of what you do in the classroom with the academic piece?
When children feel safe in their classroom—safe from friendship problems, safe to tell the teacher when they don't understand, safe to be truly honest with their teacher—they're open to learning, and the learning just comes.

So, we've touched on how knowing children really well as individuals opens the door for the academic piece. Does it go the other way around? Are there assignments after which you know a child better than you did before? 
Their writing brings tears to everybody's eyes during their literary share. The children are so open to who they are, like when they write their "I Am" poems. We also had a project where students had to choose an emotion, and one of the children chose anxiety; it was beautifully written, but it also told me that this was something I needed to know about this child and pay attention to. Writing is probably the best thing I do with the children; when they move on to essay writing in 4th grade, they're already descriptive writers who know how to paint a picture. The social-emotional and academic pieces just go together... And it all stems from the relationship we have. ❖

Reading in Castle Nook

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Nina Chibber, Director of Admission, Pre-K–1
Sara Huneke, Associate Director of Admission, Grades 2–8
Judy Shniderman, Admission Assistant

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