(I also wrote this blog for Teaching Tolerance)

Dear Susan,

Blanding's Turtles checking out their home for the weekend

As you enjoy these last few days before the whirlwind of school starts once again, remember what you learned by watching the Blanding’s turtles this weekend.

  1. Remember that it is going to take a bit for the turtles to become accustomed to their new surroundings. This too is true for your new students. Fourth grade can be a big jump and they will be nervous and tentative when they enter the classroom on Tuesday just like the turtles were when they came to the classroom. Even though the four young turtles look very much the same, they too seem to have pretty distinct personalities and how they adapt to their new tank. Some of your students may be really quiet or may be too talkative, allow them to become familiar with their new classroom in what feels most comfortable to them.
  2. Since this is a time of transition for both the turtles and students, be patient as they learn new routines. It’s easy to remember the students that you had at the end of June and how much they could accomplish. But these new students and turtles will be full of curiosity about their new surroundings. Be patient, everything is going to take longer whether it is learning how to write assignments in their homework notebook or cleaning out the turtle tank.
  3. Be flexible. Just as you learned this weekend, you may have to try several different ways to reach different students. For your turtles, you needed to try different turtle food and a different method to feed them. You might too need to try different ways to reach a reluctant writer or reader or a student who says they stink in math. Be persistent and don’t give up. Remember what your new principal said at the staff meeting. This is important. You can do it. I won’t give up on you.
  4. Rejoice in watching your students and turtles. Observe them carefully. Find out what makes them tick. Enjoy them.

Well, time to go and plan for next week.