Hopes and Dreams for the School Year
When I first began my teaching journey, I was lucky to be a part of a school that embraced Responsive Classroom. I attended their workshops, read their books, and fell in love with many of the ideas that I learned during the time. Although I am at a different school now, Responsive Classroom has been at the foundation of my teaching. I love building a classroom community and I believe it is the reason that I've had excellent behavior management each year. I really take the time to get to know my students and understand their needs outside of academics and equally importantly, I make sure that every activity that we do helps them to learn about and understand one another so that we really feel like a classroom family.
One of my favorite components of a Responsive Classroom is focusing on hopes and dreams. At the beginning of the year, we discuss what our big hopes and dreams are for the future. My fifth graders don't always know what they want to be, but they can vocalize some of the things that they picture for their future. Because that's a really big picture, I turn that conversation to their hopes and dreams for this year, asking them to consider what they want to accomplish by the last day of school. We usually brainstorm a list of ideas, which students are happy to add to. Things on the list often include earning straight A's, passing all of their tests, making new friends, participating in new after school clubs, memorizing all of their multiplication facts, getting better grades than the year before, etc. Once we've got a great list going, I ask them to stop and consider their own lists, and give them some time to really consider what their hopes and dreams for their year are. When they are ready they write their hopes and dreams down and we display them in the classroom.
That night, I also send home a letter to parents, asking them to record their hopes and dreams for their child's year. When the students bring these in, we add them to our wall, so that students are constantly seeing their hopes and dreams as well as the hopes and dreams of their parents. I cannot tell you how powerful this is. It is an excellent way to keep students focused and to serve as a reminder on those days that they lose their focus. We celebrate HUGE as they achieve their hopes and dreams, and we do a big reflection at the end of the year to consider what they've accomplished and what their new hopes and dreams for the following year might be. Identifying student and parent hopes and dreams is a great way to start the year off on the right foot and keep students focused on achieving everything on their list and more!
I've put together a freebie for recording student and parent hopes and dreams, and even included the letter that I send home to parents without a signature so that you can add yours. If you're not sure how to display these in your room, I'd encourage you to do a quick google image search of "hopes and dreams displays" and I'm quite sure you'll find lots of inspiring examples. If you just don't have the wall space, which I completely understand, consider adding this to a student folder or binder, one that students will be considering often. I've had challenges with wall space in the past, and I added it to their work folders that were kept at school, so that they would see the hopes and dreams when we had our monthly teacher-student conferences.
My freebie is from my Goal Setting and Reflection Packet that I use throughout the year. Click on the picture to grab it!
Don't forget to set your own hopes and dreams for the year and post them in the classroom too! We all need a reminder of our hopes and dreams for the future! Wishing you a successful kick-off to the 2015-2016 academic year!
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