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School Health and Safety

This Back-to-School Prep is Prize-Worthy


Melissa Salguero

Finalist, 2019 Global Teacher Prize

In a few weeks, more than 56 million kids will be heading back to the classroom to begin or resume their education. But prepping for back to school season doesn’t need to be stressful and difficult, however — at least not if you take Melissa Salguero’s advice.

Salguero was a finalist in the 2019 Global Teacher Prize, established in 2014 by the Varkey Foundation (a charitable organization dedicated to improving educational standards for underprivileged children) to recognize an outstanding teacher from around the world. Salguero was a natural choice, as she single-handedly brought the music program back to Public School 48 in the Bronx, New York, was named the Big Apple Awards & Lincoln Center Arts Teacher of the Year in 2013, and won the 2018 GRAMMY Music Educator Award.

New ideas

Salguero is quick to remind us that teachers are prepping for back to school, too. “The most important tool a teacher needs to prepare for back to school is the skill of continuous self-development,” she says. “Don’t be scared to try something new — it’s OK to fail, but pick yourself up, assess, and adjust.”

Salguero is a big believer in a consistent classroom environment. “Rules, expectations, consequences, and procedures need to be clear, fair, and consistent,” she says. Just as important is consistent enforcement. “Make sure you follow through. Say what you mean and mean what you say.”

Taking stock

Salguero highlights learning from your past mistakes. “The first thing I do is reflect on what went well and what needed improvement in the previous year,” she notes. “Then I set goals for the upcoming year, usually one big full-year goal and about five smaller goals.”

Successfully achieving goals requires organization, according to Salguero. “Be very specific and put a timeframe on your goals,” she says. “And write them down! Put your goals in a location you will see every day.”

One personal touch Salguero includes in her own prep demonstrates why the Varkey Foundation made her a finalist. “Another thing I do is write why I became a teacher on an index card and tape that to my desk for any time I need a little reminder of why I do what I do,” she says. The card reads ‛I became a teacher to inspire my students to work hard, dream big, and never give up.’'”

Jeff Somers, [email protected]

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