The first few weeks of a new school year are the most challenging and frustrating times in my classroom. Getting to know new kiddos, new schedules and flow, and the inevitable “this is too hard” comments. A couple of years ago I started responding with a simple “I’m sorry” and pointing to a chart hanging on the walls titled “Change my words”. I never gave more of a response and didn’t offer a way out of their uncomfortableness. Some felt their only option was to grab an answer from another student but many times they were shut down and shooed away. This was always met with the loudest groans and mumbling about being ignored but slowly those changed. They began to realize that I didn’t care that they weren’t perfect and didn’t get the content YET. They realized that what I needed from them was to change the way they were voicing their frustrations. Back then I didn’t realize I was asking them to change their mindset and get gritty with their content!
Within the first month of school, their words didn’t have to be met with “I’m sorry”. Instead, they were able to voice frustrations or troubles in a way that opened up the doors for us to communicate about the situation and not just have it fixed by a teacher.