Thursday, February 16, 2017

Childhood is Different These Days

Today we had an impromptu open circle. I had observed some behaviors and wanted to address them. I am sure some of you have never seen these behaviors (hee hee). I had students do their BEST eyeball roll at their classmates. Then we did our best "UGH!" followed with an angry glare. I had students end up in a pile of laughter as they saw how this looked. 

Doing these actions to our classmates is counterproductive to build relationships. We discussed having empathy for others, how you really do not know what goes on in people's lives, and how they are one person in a community of 24. 

I then gave them a chance to reflect on the year and think of one thing as a class they would like to see us work on. Here are some of the things students shared:
  • Being respectful to others.
  • Not teasing boys and girls who hang out. They could be just friends, and if they are more than friends they still do not want to be teased. 
  • Keeping the voice volume down. 
  • Making more connections with students I might not know. 
  • Being less judgmental.
  • Think about perception. 

I loved their raw honesty. The whole time I thought about my Facebook status from the other day. Though I did not share this with students it rings very true. Molly Ringwald said so eloquently, "When you're a teenager, you're forever thinking: Do they like me? When you're a grown up, as anyone over the age of thirty can attest, the question becomes: Do I like them?" 

Our students are struggling with many things. Keeping the conversation open builds a trusting and honest place where we can all grow as people. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Not so Straight Line

We are expected to walk through the hallways with a 0 voice volume in a straight line, one person behind the other. For some students this is challenging. They end up on the other side of the hallway or walking into the rolls of butcher paper that magically appear. Others see it as a fine time to have side conversations. In the real world we do not walk through hallways in a single file line like dots on a line segment. We pass each other, and say hello. Some might stop and talk about a current event or that big sporting event. Adults have an easier time dealing with distractions. My class understands we need to be quiet in the hallways to respect the learning of others. However, today I asked them to be a team using a voice volume of 0. On our way back from health we did football drills down the hallway in anticipation of the BIG GAME this weekend. Students were doing foot drills, squats, throwing practice, and a knees up drill. The voice volume was not a 0 but people we passed understood what we were doing and smiled. The movement break got their minds ready for the rest of our day. They were excited about being able to try something new in a place they were not used to being so free.

Sometimes we need to switch it up! We need to move. We need to work as a team. We need to laugh, play, and have fun. And as we raised our knees and tossed our imaginary football we were reminded of that.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Teacher Gave Herself a Warning

I remember in my undergraduate program there was no such thing as punishing a child anymore. What we were taught was to give consequences. In life we all have choices to make and sometimes we do not make the best one. In the classroom this could be throwing something, talking while someone else is talking, or not following directions. While I do not expect perfection and solider like behavior I do expect students to be respectful of themselves, each other, and our environment so we can all learn and grow. When I see something that is not respectful I give a child a warning. He or she writes his or her agent number on the board, so when other people come into our room they have no idea what those numbers are. If a child chooses to do something again then he or she writes a letter home to a parent. The third time I speak to someone is a one way cruise ticket to the office. Today I gave myself a warning.

GASP! The teacher gave herself a warning? I had a conversation with a student and had told him how to spell a word wrong. I Googled it, and the child was right. I apologized to him and told him to give me a warning. In that instance I needed to listen better. I am modeling my own consequences using myself. It is important for students to see that a teacher can be wrong or make mistakes too. I think it is humbling for us all and helps us grow as a community of learners.

Tomorrow is a new day. All those warnings erased. Letters home will be signed and returned. We start each day here with a blank slate. Please know if your child comes home with a letter it is a consequence based of his or her choices. I suggest talking to him her about those choices and processing them with him or her. It warrants a conversation. Maybe even offer up a time where you did not make the best choice and there was a consequence. I am often reminded of a choice I made when I was in the 6th grade. I was annoyed about something and rather than go home and deal with it I kicked and screamed in the middle of the street.  This may or may not be on a VHS tape somewhere. We all have our shining moments we would like to forget. I would definitely have given myself a warning for that. If I had to write a letter home about it then it is still sitting in my father’s file cabinet with all the other letters I wrote to him about my behavior and choices. Some of these are keepers! The best part was tomorrow was a new day!