About Lori H Rice

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading as well as kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade since 1996. She has a passion for creativity, learning, questioning and the whole child. Her classroom is a place of acceptance and celebrating differences.

backtoschoolThis year is brand new.  If it is your first year or your thirtieth year teaching, it is new.  You have never been in this situation or with these exact set of colleagues or with these kids.   It is easy to see the negativity in education, it is everywhere.  You can ignore the truths about our profession or you can become cynical.  But there is a third choice.  A choice to do what you know is right for children.  A choice to see beauty in the little things, celebrate the learning, and bring your full self to your classroom.  This year is full of possibilities.

Each student is an individualMaking connections and setting up a community the first month of school is an important step.  Get to know your students so you can match their interests and strengths to your lessons.  Share pieces of yourself so they can connect with you.  Laugh, have fun and enjoy the learning journey.

Teachers are human too– Planning lessons and being prepared is an important key to success.  But even sometimes the best planned lessons go wrong.  Outside factors (weather, current events, personalities) impact what happens inside your classroom walls.  Being flexible and open to change will help you work through these situations.  If your approach is not working—for whatever reason—stop! Regroup and start over with a different approach. Be honest and examine what went wrong. Bad days happen to the best teachers, how you respond determines your greatness.

Teachers learn too—Learning never stops.  In our world of ever-changing technology things seem to move at the speed of light.  Teaching is an ongoing, ever-changing profession. You will continue to learn about your content and curriculum. Hold the things that work well for you and use colleagues and social networks around you.  Find others that have passion and do this work well.  Ask them for help.  Push yourself to learn more just as you do your own students.

Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach—Part of teaching is having a big heart and the desire to want to help.  If you focus on a few things, you will do them well.  There are many committees & opportunities for teachers, but remember to be realistic about your own limits.  It is important to balance your work commitments with your personal life.  Taking time for yourself makes you healthier and therefore allows you to do what is needed for your students.  Doing too much takes away from what you can offer your students.

You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time– There will be frustrations.  Our job is to teach students and, at times, their parents as well. Students do not need a friend who is your age; they need a facilitator, a guide, a role model for learning. There will be times you are doing what you know is best and others will disagree.  Provide a safe environment, listen with respect, show respect for everyone in your classroom, be open for learning, but remember sometimes you will not be popular.  Your job is to teach.

Teachers teach more than you knowTeaching today and covering content is a challenge. The amount of objectives and needs in our classrooms grow each year.  You not only teach content, you teach life skills and social emotional skills as well.  There are many resources available to guide and help you.  Use your peers, professional books, and online resources. Teaching the whole child and building a community strengthens and makes possible the content learning your students will do.

Teaching is crazy makingThis is some of the toughest work on the planet.  Be sure to start slow. Classroom management, content knowledge, pedagogy, and parent communication are just a start.  You can help with the crazy though.  Pick one area you need to strengthen and start there.  It is impossible to do it all.  There are a million programs and ways to teach.  Focus on research based strategies and use the things that fit into your personal philosophy.  Then, when you are feeling comfortable with that, incorporate another innovation into your teaching.  Keep the crazy in check by giving yourself grace.

Let it go– Learn to laugh with your students and at yourself! Sometimes you will need to cry, yell, and celebrate. Find those people in your building you can trust.  Share your feeling with someone so you are not overwhelmed.  Clearing your mind and heart will allow you to refocus on your teaching.  This is a very personal profession and we all need to let it go sometimes.

Find beauty in mistakes–You are not perfect and it is important for your students to see your growth and learning too.  If you make an error, use it to learn.  What went wrong?  Do you need to do something differently?  Showing your students how you can fail and learn is part of the process we are teaching them.  Some beautiful things come from mistakes.

This is the best job on earth!–There is not another profession that touches the future the way teaching does.  You will impact the future and your students and families in ways you can never imagine! You go to work each day and will make a difference in the life of a child.  Thank you for your passion, commitment and dedication to our youth!


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