Honey, Humor, and Homework
September 9, 2021
by katie jones backer
Do you remember Miss Honey from Matilda? She had this beautiful grace and compassion for her students, and helped Matilda overcome some really difficult things in and out of the classroom. The cool thing is, great teachers aren’t only found in storybooks. We are certainly blessed with some great instructors within our community!
Kristen Brook is the kind of person that makes you feel like it’s all going to be okay. She has a gift for brightening any room and helping alleviate students’ anxiety by completely and unabashedly meeting them where they’re at. I wouldn’t be surprised to find her sitting on the floor or at a lunch table helping a struggling student. She uses humor, relationship, and compassion in her exchanges, traits that I’ve witnessed firsthand. Kristen’s career has been spent “under the umbrella of Special Education, teaching a variety of classes and levels including English, Math, Social/Emotional/Behavioral Skills and Learning Strategies (presently at Will James Middle School).” She is passionate about supporting and teaching students to work within their own individual skill set, encouraging them to be the best version of themselves. She also believes in “supporting parents/guardians with a school-to-home connection, which can help families ‘live their best life’ when the school day ends” which is just as important to Kristen (as a wife, mom of two, and a dog mom to a crazy French Britney Spaniel).
With this in mind, I asked Kristen to share a few tips to help parents and students adjust to the school/homework routine, pulling upon her 20 plus years of teaching experience with School District #2.
Start the year off right!
1. Read emails and newsletters sent from your child’s school! Often those have important contact information and details for starting the school year off right!! For example, important login information regarding where and how to access your child’s teacher contact information, current grades, and yes, even those missing assignments!
2. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher(s)... even if they are in high school! Keeping open lines of communication between home and school can help navigate when situations, assignments, or projects need clarifying. Or even better...if age appropriate, empower your child to use their school given email address as means of communicating with their teachers and have them include you as a recipient.
3. All of us have an organizational system that “works for us!" Help your child own it by including them in helping establish a system that will work for them... will it be Folders? Binders? Or an accordion folder system for [their stuff]? As painful as it may be, some students need the freedom to be “functionally disorganized.” These are the students that may make us grit our teeth as we watch them find what they need, but alas, they find it!
4. Set aside time each day (even just 5 minutes) to help your child process their day, decompress, and/or make a plan for the next day! Ask open ended questions: What was your favorite part of the day? What was your least favorite part of the day? Is there anything I can do to support you? If you get the “shoulder shrug”... go with, “What did you eat for lunch?”
These are some helpful tips and definitely align with her final quote, “Every school year I look forward to watching human growth and development in ‘real time’ and the promise that there are no two days the same! My class motto is: 'We Can Do Hard Things.'” And we can too! By staying connected to our kids’ schools, and helping our children get organized and process their daily happenings, we are supporting them in what will hopefully shape up to be a fantastic school year.
Does anyone else have an inkling to go watch Matilda now!?
Katie Jones Backer
Katie Jones Backer “retired” from teaching High School History to adopt her daughter and pursue her dream of writing. She is the author of the Nav’Aria series (kjbacker.com). She has a passion for travel, history, writing, fitness, helping others, and most of all, her husband, daughter, pomeranians, chihuahua, and tortoise!