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The Importance of a Blank Slate

classroom management growth mindset in-person teaching mindset my life special education teacher life Feb 09, 2021

Recently I was looking back through my Instagram Posts and I found this one (I know the caption is long, but it is cute): 

 It got me thinking about how every student carries this image with them. 

The boys in this photo had IEP's that honestly had us a little scared. Would there be thrown chairs? Would there be fights? We began to prepare for the worst. 

But the gentlemen that showed up were just boys trying to deal with the hand they had been dealt. 

 Then I think about other teachers. They get a new batch of kiddos every year! 

Some come with paperwork and others come with a reputation. And then we prepare. 

I'm not saying we shouldn't take into account how the student has been before, but really, we need to give them the chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. 


I had one very combative young lady as a student and she and I butted heads like none other. I always felt crazy that a 13-year-old could get under my skin like that, but she knew just how to push my buttons.  

She left and went to another school for a time and, honestly I was relieved. Then at the beginning of the next school year, her name was on my roster again. 

I think I cried. I hated how I wasn't able to connect with her and how she made me feel, but I am literally the only middle school language arts teacher, so it isn't like she could go to another teacher. She had to have me as her teacher again. 

And I don't know what happened while she was gone, but she was a whole new child. She was kind and calm. She wasn't constantly on the defense and trying to pick fights. 

She and I got along! I learned how she wants to be a singer and she has an amazing voice! We talked about lipstick and makeup. 

I was shook! Mostly, I was in shock that I had reacted the way that I had to seeing her coming back to our school. 


And that is my cautionary tale for you. 

You know that saying: "Prepare for the worst, but expect the best?"

That is how we should go into any year, any semester, even any day! Kids can have bad days and can change, so make sure you give them the space to start fresh!