Skip to main content

Are You Truly Ready?

    I recently read a blog entitled "What's My Name?" by Matthew Arend.  It was so thought provoking!  The author shared a childhood memory of meeting a beloved baseball team while on vacation with his family.  He and his brother stood in the lobby of their hotel for hours asking for autograph after autograph until one player asked them the question: "What's my name?"  When they couldn't tell him, he politely refused the autograph.  The players reasoning was that if you don't know my name then why should I give you my autograph?  Great point, right?  

    In education we spend a lot of time focusing on our classroom, curriculum goals, personal goals, building goals, and district goals.  Hours and hours are spent in preperation for open house.  We take time to thoughtfully arrange our classrooms.  We make goody bags to welcome our new students.  We spend many hours getting our lesson plans ready for the first few weeks.  What are we doing, though, to prepare ourselves for knowing our students when they walk into our classroom at open house? 

    I was reminded of a story my sister once shared with me about her experience at her youngest son's open house.  She, like many parents, had been preparing her son to meet his second grade teacher.  She was nervous about this meeting because first grade had been a rough year that ended in the development of a 504 plan for her son.  Nervously she entered the classroom and introduced her son to the teacher.  As her son moved around checking out his new second grade classroom she talked with the teacher and asked her if she was familiar with her son's 504 plan.  To her amazement the teacher responded that she knew he had one, but had not read it yet.  Needless to say, my sister left feeling a little less hopeful for her son's second grade year.

    It is so important that we take the time to truly know our students before they walk through our doors that first day.  Know their names and who they are as students.  I don't mean get the dirt on them!  I mean take time to review their academics, IEPs, 504s, and social emotional needs.  I understand that this isn't always possible with every student.  If you have a student that's new to your district obviously this will be harder to do, but for the most part the majority of our class is made up of students that were in our school or district the year before.  Nothing you say or do will mean more to the parents than being able to discuss their child in a genuine way.  It will create a bond between you and the parent of your student immediately!  Parents want to know that you care enough to learn everything you can about their child.  It shows you're invested in their family!  Be ready to discuss your plan of action for their child.  

Parents are excited to see their child's classroom, to be welcomed into it, to know where their child will spend the next year of their life.  However, it's not the most important thing they come looking for.  They come looking for acceptance, for knowledge, for interest, and most importantly for investment.  Be ready to meet ALL of those expectations.  Are you truly ready?  Are you ready to accept their child for EXACTLY who they are?  Are  you ready to share your knowledge of their child's academic standing, social emotional issues, behavior plans, intervention plans, IEP goals, 504 plans?  Show them that you're interested and they will be ready to invest in their child's education in the same way you've invested them! 

Time is ticking by...summer is fading into the all too familiar sounds of school supplies being bought, backpacks being picked out, classrooms being transformed into learning spaces again, teachers and parents preparing for their back to school routines.  This is my favorite time of year!  A fresh start!  New faces, new challenges, new families.  Our families and students are excited to "meet the teacher."  They're waiting anxiously for their class list or postcard in the mail announcing who their new teacher will be.  Don't disappoint them!  


Start now! Preparing yourself to be able to answer the question...  "What's my name?"


*Special thanks to Matthew Arend for inspiring me to be truly ready to "know" my students!




  1. Lizabeth, thank you boldly stepping out and sharing your experience. I have recently been sharing the importance of blogging with colleagues and how sharing what we may feel is an irrelevant story or experience may mean something to someone somewhere, but we will never know if the story is my told!

    I am humbled that my post inspired this and look forward to reading more of your thoughts!!

    Best of luck as the school year begins!

  2. Thank you Matthew! Blogging is an amazing tool for educators. It's a great way to be transparent!

  3. Wonderful article, Liz! Getting to KNOW our students is so important so we will be ready to gain the trust of each parent and so they will know we love their child. Have a blessed school year and I'm so excited about my new room arrangement that you trained me on this summer. Have a blessed school year!

  4. I really enjoyed your article, Liz. Wish I could get to really know all 800. Do the best I can, though. God's speed with you this year. : )


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Power of Yet... much power in one word.  It brings to mind the notion that something is not action yet to be completed.

      A good friend of mine...a mentor, who happens to also be my principal,  Bethany Hill, recently posed the question on Twitter... "What if we viewed  barriers and obstacles as opportunities?"  My mind immediately went to the  amazing obstacle course that our PE teacher currently had set up in our  gymnasium.  I was visualizing my little first graders' eyes as they walked into the  gym and saw this colorful array of obstacles.  Their eyes lit up with excitement,  some of them literally jumped up and down with pure glee at the challenge  before them.
      Next, I thought of how they intentionally took the challenge and began to  problem solve how they were going to maneuver through the course.  They  didn't know how they were going to do it yet...but they were determined to  figure it out.  Not one child said, "I can't do this.  I…

The Struggle is Real!

There is a moment that every teacher reaches when working with struggling learners.  It's that moment when you stop and say, "What else can I do?  I've done everything I know to do and yet nothing seems to be helping."  As a teacher, it is one of the most helpless feelings.  Watching a student struggle and become frustrated or even want to give up is a horrible experience, but it is the reality of what happens when a student continuously "doesn't get it."  They eventually do not want to try anymore.

I found myself in this place, once again, with some very sweet, precious, and most importantly hard working students.  They were working their little brains to the point of exhaustion every day trying to read.  Again and again we would go over our letters and sounds, reading strategies, and sight words.  Again and again they would struggle to identify the sight words we had just discussed.  We were building our spelling words and breaking them apart every da…

Do You Know Me?

We are by nature compiled of little mannerisms, habits, obsessions, and characteristics. They make us who we are. They are formed by our experiences, sensories, emotions, and thoughts. These little nuances determine our behaviors, our focus, our likes and dislikes, and the challenges that we will carry and have to overcome. They are tiny parts of us but knowing these pieces are HUGE in helping the people around us communicate with us. 

I have an enormous sensory issue. I hate touching paper, wearing jeans, and loud noises. Certain textures of clothing and food make me cringe and want to run away screaming! Some of these sensory issues could easily control me...if I gave them permission to do so. As a child they totally did. I would wear dirty clothes straight out of the hamper rather than wear something I knew would make me uncomfortable. I couldn't turn the pages in my book because of the feeling I got when the paper rubbed together. I had issues with writing because of obsession…