The latest blog post from Legacy’s education consultant and Advisory Board member on her blog: Education, From Inside and Outside

Education from Inside and Outside: Optimism in January

When school reopens in January, teachers and students can be challenged by the prospect of two to three more months of short days and cold weather. Sometimes the weather means indoor recess for the students and not enough opportunities for gross motor activity, which leads to restless students. Sometimes getting up in the dark to go to work leads to depression in teachers. Students and teachers need to be able to refresh their relationships and start the new calendar year with hope and good cheer. Here are some suggestions for teachers:

0024Make a list of all you have accomplished with your students so far, September-December. Instead of focusing on what you haven’t done, celebrate what you have achieved. Share appropriate parts of the list with your students, so they can approach the new work with a sense of optimism.

Establish or reestablish a classroom routine that involves personal connection with your students. Perhaps you begin class by greeting them individually, or you send them off at the end of class with an individual good-bye. Perhaps you take a moment at the beginning or end of class to collect yourself and speak directly to the class about how much you care for them and appreciate them.

Set realistic goals for yourself and your students. Instead of thinking about all that must be done before the end of the school year, choose the most important thing to be done this month. Articulate that for yourself and your students, and then make celebrate when your class has accomplished that goal.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, talk about it with a trusted colleague. Schools are filled with caring adults who are great listeners. They won’t “make everything all better,” but they will make you feel understood and appreciated.

If you are interested in pursuing some of these skills, take a look at the February 2 workshop for teachers and youth workers:  http://www.legacyintl.org/livingsidebyside/

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Mary Riser has worked in Virginia independent schools for 30 years, most recently as Head of School at James River Day School, a K-8 day co-ed day school in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she served as Head for ten years. Mary received her B.A. in English and Philosophy from Georgetown University and her M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Oregon. Prior to working at James River, Mary was the Middle School Director and an English teacher at St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville for fifteen years, and an English teacher and English Department Chair at the Blue Ridge School for Boys for five years. Between undergraduate school and graduate school, she worked as a legislative aide for the Honorable Pat Williams, the Congressman from Western Montana.
When asked what motivates her, Mary said, “I am passionate about learning. I believe that education should be designed to keep the learner at the center, and that the purpose of education is to cherish and challenge all learners to find their purpose and to thrive.”
Mary and her husband, George, live in Covesville, Virginia and have two adult children.