BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The 81 public schools located in East Baton Rouge (EBR) Parish opened their doors to students for the start of the school year Monday, August 8, and for just over a week, teachers have been hard at work in the business of educating young learners.
Many teachers would agree that the process of welcoming students back into the classroom after summer vacation and guiding them focus so as to take in a plethora of new information is often challenging.
This is only one of the many hurdles teachers must find ways to overcome as a new school year begins.
Several other challenges teachers often face, and examples of solutions are detailed below.
A limited budget
When a teacher doesn’t have much of a budget to work with, they may feel limited in the kinds of activities and resources that they can use to help students get the best out of their education. This can be discouraging.
An article from the Council for Exceptional Children suggests thinking critically about your goals for your students, what is truly needed to help them meet those goals, and then creating a strategy with the aim of buying items that will directly help you work towards meeting those goals.
The article says, “There are so many things you can buy for your classroom and so many things in the aisle of a store that look like they will be helpful (and they will be), but that doesn’t mean you need them. You have to prioritize items that are necessary to reach your classroom goals.”
It then suggests purchasing used items where possible. This may mean checking out local thrift stores like Goodwill or checking out local garage sales in addition to online resources such as Facebook Marketplace.
The Council’s article adds, “You should always mention that you are a teacher. People love supporting education and it’s possible if you mention it at checkout you’ll score an even steeper discount.”
Establishing positive relationships with parents
When parents are too busy to attend conferences or open house events, it can be difficult for teachers to establish a positive rapport with them. This may become a problem should the teacher need to reach out to a parent with concerns regarding their child’s behavior or grades. Without any sort of previous positive interaction with the teacher, the parent may go into the meeting with a negative mindset.
eLearning Industry recommends using an online form to request feedback from parents. This way, teachers can gather information and have everything centralized in a solid database. This also establishes a way to send messages to busy parents who cannot meet teachers in person at the start of the school year.
Teach.com also advises providing free food for parents who do attend events and conferences at the start of the school year. This, accompanied by a warm and gracious demenaor can go a long way in establishing open communication with parents.
The website goes on to say, “When parents come with questions, point them in the right direction where they can find help. If you share a concern, be prepared to suggest resources. Another thing you can do is create a resource. Create a website with basic information such as contact information; policies, supplies needed, and expectations that you have for students and parents for a successful year.”
It continues, “Great platforms for building websites include WordPress, Wix and Weebly. If families do not have internet access, prepare a pamphlet or a newsletter and distribute them to parents.”
Getting to know students
Every student’s personality is different and some are extroverts who are eager to answer questions and show teachers who they are. But other students are more reserved or may even suffer from a form of social anxiety or other disability that hampers their ability to open up in class.
eLearning offers the following suggestion, “You can use a survey to make icebreakers and all kind of activities. You can use TeacherVision for inspiration or use a free online survey tool to create online questionnaires and have student complete them on computer or other gadgets. It can be great for a course beginning as you can customize it to fit your needs and use it to find out important facts about your new students.”
Teach Starter also recommends utilizing non-verbal communication while getting to know students. For example, it suggests telling students they can put a sticky note on their desk to let you know when they need help.
It also mentions that it can be useful to encourage the entire class to engage in non-verbal responses to questions, such as holding up cards with answers or performing an action that indicates their answer (e.g. any student who thinks the answer is A should put their head on their desk) to a question.
These are only three challenges that many of Baton Rouge’s hard-working educators face as they take on the 2022-2023 school year.
But as in previous semesters, these innovative teachers will likely find creative ways to carry out exciting classroom activities on limited budgets and establish effective relationships with both parents and students.