Back-to-School: Helpful Messages – Teacher’s Corner


Teacher’s Corner

The messages your students hear as school begins are important.  You can help your students get a good start at school this year by making sure they get helpful messages.

There are two types of helpful messages.

  1.  “You are cared about” messages

They sound like this: “I’m so glad you are in my class.” “You are fun to be around.” 

    2.  “You do many things well” or “Let me show you how to do better” messages

They sound like this: “You stayed right with your worksheet today until you got it done.” “You were a real star in the playground games today.”  “Practice your spelling words, and you will do great on the test.”

Typically at school children get an overdose of messages about what they do well and how to do better. However, children need both kinds of messages to be successful at home and at school. It is important that parents load up on “care about you” messages at home as school begins so they can help balance out all the do well and how to do better messages from school. However, it is important that teachers and other school personnel also give children some “care about you” messages. It is these “care about you” messages that are the foundation for students to be receptive to learning, believe in themselves, and hear instruction as a good thing and not as criticism.

The following are writing prompts and discussion topics you can use with your students about helpful messages.
Read Back-to-School: Helpful Messages.
  1. Which type of message would you most like to hear at home? Explain why that is what you most want to hear.

“I missed you today while you were at school.”  OR   “You were a star at your soccer practice today.”

    2.  Which type of message would you most like to hear at school? Explain why that is what you most want to hear. Explain why that is what you most want to hear.

“I am glad you are in my class.”   OR   “You did really well on your math worksheet.”

   3.  Describe two ways you could let adults know at home or at school what kind of messages you like best?

Teachers, you can use this blog in classrooms. Here are two ideas about how.
  1. For middle or high school parenting or child development courses:
    • Use the blog for discussion topics
    • Require students to research the topics and agree or disagree with what the blog is suggesting.
  2. For all courses, especially English Language Arts:
  • Use the blog for writing prompts for paragraphs, theme papers, journal entries, class starters, etc. Have students read the blog and respond to:
  • Do you agree with what is being said about kids? Do kids really act, think or feel that way?
  • Do you agree with what is being said about parents, grandparents, teachers and child caregivers? Do or should they act, think or feel that way?
  • What would be your advice on this topic?
  • What was left out of this article?
  • If you were a parent, would you use any of this information? How?
Why can this blog be a useful teaching tool?
  • Students that see connections between their coursework and their lives do better in school.
  • Most students will either be parents one day or have children in their lives that they care about, so the topical information can help them build their knowledge about children and parenting and develop a positive image of the type of parenting they want to do.
  • The new core literacy standards adopted by most states call for frequent writing in all courses.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can think critically. These prompts help students practice critical thinking.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can analyze what they read. These prompts help students practice analysis.

What do you think?

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