My son starts 8th grade today, so I asked him a question--What are three things you would tell your teacher to do to start the school year off right? Here are his answers, with my comments in italics.
1. Be chill. He's had a stressful summer with some family illnesses and losing his foster brother. He'll be stressed enough starting a new year, so he doesn't want his teacher to be stressed. I wonder how many other students come to school with outside stresses?
2. For the first couple of days, give us a break on homework. It is sort of a bad start. Of course students will say no homework, but his point is valid--give students a break every once in a while. When I was teaching struggling students, homework was always a battle. So I explained to them that I would not give them homework every night, but when I gave it, it was important and needed to be done. They asked for no homework on weekends and game nights (I had many football players) and I worked with that. Homework became a learning activity, not something that HAD to be done every night.
3. Get to know the kids more than just teaching at the start. Don't we all know this? The old adage, kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care, is really true! It's important to build relationships with your students, not only because you make a difference for your students, but also because the more you understand them, the more you can help them connect with learning.
What do you think? How would your students respond to this question? It might be worth asking them!