The students in my first-grade class are interested in sharks, puzzles, making friends, STEAM, and superheroes. They want to succeed even though there are many forces in this country that fight against their efforts. They speak Spanish, Tigrinya, Somali, Finish, Khmer, Cambodian, Mandarin, Tagalog, and English. My students are inquisitive, hilarious, honest, and ambitious people. Two out of three are living in poverty and every single student has so much drive to learn. Our dual-language program supports native Spanish-speakers along with those with a desire to learn Spanish. With a wonderful diversity of interests and challenges, our school works hard to know each student's name and need.
At our school, we try every day to be PUMAS: Positive, United, Mindful, Academic, and Safe. In order to be PUMAS, many of my students rely on the support of the community for basic necessities. Many of my students deal with homelessness or housing insecurity. They cannot do their best in class if they are worried about being hungry, properly dressed, clean, and warm. In my classroom, I have a space I refer to as Maslow's Closet which contains supplies to care for those concerns. This space is available to any student or family who is in need.
I consider this to be a positive, united, and mindful strategy to support my students while holding them to high academic and behavioral expectations.
Each one of these items is something that has been requested by a parent or student. Pants and long-sleeved shirts will keep kids warm and feeling confident while they build their skills in school and at home.
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