Part 2: Four things to keep in mind for a new school year

This is Part 2 in a series. Click here to read Part 1.

In my last post, I stared telling you about the four things I'm keeping in mind as I kick off this school year. Time to jump right into the last two, equally important, things: building relationships with my students and setting clear learning expectations!

#3: Building Relationships With My Students

I suck at bulletin boards. They’re crooked and always the ugliest in my building. I’m trying to use the space to feature what’s important to me and our year together as a class, and right now, nothing is more important than building relationships. Before I can start calling kids back to my conferring table to listen to them read and give effective feedback about their writing pieces, they have to trust me. They need to know I love them. And I need to know what interests and motivates them. For the first month of school, then, we’re getting to know each other. See this empty bulletin board? This week it will be filled with “All About Me” posters created by the kids.

all about us bulletin board.jpg

How are you building relationships with your kids right now?

#4: Setting Clear Learning Expectations

I love learning targets. Not just because they’re a fundamental piece of doing FIP right but because they keep me honest. Every Friday I write an email to my parents, principal, and co-teachers, highlighting what we’ve done this past week and what we’re doing in the week to come. At the center of that email are next week’s learning targets.

learning targets aug 2013.jpg

Here’s what we’re focusing on next week:

  • I can do a close reading, or re-read closely for details 4-6 times, to help me find answers.
  • I can infer, or use clues from the text, to reach a conclusion.
  • I can define direct quotation and paraphrase.
  • I can define the three types of context clues: restatement clue, contrast clue, and inference clue.
  • I understand that prefixes, suffixes, and roots, or bases, are word parts.
  • I can find examples of imagery, such as similes or metaphors.
  • I can respond to reading in my ELA notebook.


I post them on a bulletin board (again, not fancy, but effective) and refer to them as we start each class together or as we master a skill. My co-teacher puts a green check mark by the ones her students have mastered. It’s snazzy and something I’d like to work on this year myself.

How are you sharing your learning targets with your students?

Share your practices in the comments below!