Writing my way through the school year!

Archive for the ‘Elementary Education Blog’ Category

The “Good” Kid Is In Jail

 

I have to be honest.
For a number of years I was that teacher. The one who prophesied the negative places kids would end up.
“Yeah, he’ll be in jail in about two years.”
“She’ll be pregnant in middle school.”
Sometimes my prophecy would come true, and fortunately, sometimes it wouldn’t.READ MORE…

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I Am a Teacher And You Want to Arm Me?

I wiI will not be armedll NEVER carry a weapon, concealed or otherwise, in my classroom.

I will NEVER keep it locked in a safe.
I say this with the utmost certainty.

There is a huge debate going on about whether teachers should be armed in order to protect their students.
As usual, teachers’ voices are muted by the roar of non-educators who believe they know better. READ MORE…

My Students, Dr.King, and the Civil Rights Movement.

They don’t understand.

When they discuss Rosa and the bus boycott, see the photographs, and videos, their voices echo, “But that’s not fair!”

As we study Dr.King, they question, “Why?”

I explain to them that it was the law. Segregation and Jim Crow laws. I explain to them that not everyone was like that. That people of different races came together to defeat this awful thing that made one group think they were better than another. READ MORE

Building Relationships with Students That Last Forever!

A colleague ran into a former student of mine. He was in my class 10 years ago. She shared how he felt about our school, but she added, “His favorite teacher was Mrs.Mims because  I knew she cared about me.”

“She cared about me.”

Let it sink in.

We need to understand, and remember, that we are dealing with children.

Many of our children come to school with issues adults couldn’t fathom, much less handle. When they walk in that door, many need a respite, a safe place, from wherever, or whatever, they came from.

They don’t need to hear that they are late, again. They don’t need to hear that they have been absent for X many days.Why tell them how much work they need to make up before saying, “Good morning, glad you are back?” It’s the little things.

And I,am by no means perfect. There are those kids throughout the year that no matter how hard I tried….it didn’t matter to them, and it made our relationship, difficult.

With my students, there is no question that they are loved. They know that I care. They know I will “fuss” when it is needed. I will hold them to high standards. I will listen to them. I will have fun and be serious. I won’t tolerate “mess.” I give and expect respect.

Is it easy? No, not always. I have had instances where I had  to bite my tongue so I don’t say something I have no business saying to someone else’s child. They will take you there.

But I keep working on it. I have become better at building the relationships in my classroom over the years.

Because 20 years later, they will remember that I cared.

The “Bad Kid” Label Sticks: Let’s Remove It!

bad kid poster

Sometimes, ok many times, she could be loud.
She rolled her eyes and twirled her neck. Often.

Her behavior was everyone else’s fault, never hers.

But as the school year progressed, she changed.
She evolved.
Was she perfect? By, no means.
Did I require perfection from her?

No, why should I?

But I observed waaaaay less yelling, bullying, eye rolling and neck twirling.

Way less.

In my End-of-the-Year card! 🙂

I never yelled at her.

I  talked to her, not “at” her.

I listened to her.

I would allow her to lead.

Let her use her voice for good.

I resisted the power struggle.

Had to, because sometimes she would take me there.:)

And we grew together throughout the school year.

We grew to understand each other.

She knew I “didn’t play”, but I loved her anyway.

She knew to grab that Ipad, set the timer for 5 minutes, and go to the buddy classroom because needed a timeout. 🙂

I learned there was a girl who needed to know she was more than a loud, bullying, eye-rolling, neck twirling child.

We built a relationship.

As the school year ended, I chose her to be the mayor at JA Biztown.

She was amazing!

Everything ran smoothly, she gave her speech to the “citizens.”

I was so proud. What a leader!

But here’s the thing with the “bad” kid.

Some educators don’t want to let go of the label that has followed that student for years.

“I can’t believe out of all the kids in your room, you chose her to be the mayor!”

Really?

I have this pesky habit of believing in the “bad” kid, just as I believe in all my kids.

I believe in giving kids a fresh start, and not believing the hype that follows them.

I believe educators should stop chasing down the previous teachers to get the “scoop” on a child and then continue to treat that child the same way they were the previous year.

Thre’s no magic wand to change a child.

And sometimes, what is tried, fails.

This year, give the “bad” kid a chance to be viewed as good, or at least as worthy as everyone else.

 

“Everybody’s It!” – Building Relationships With Play!

I can’t join in because of my knees, but I watch.

I stand on the sidewalk, outside our back door, and watch them engage in our Morning Meeting activity, “Everybody’s It.”

When the weather warms up, we head outside for our Morning Meeting activity every day that we can.

I am fortunate, I open our back door, and they hit the blacktop.

I do not remember where I found “Everybody’s It”. I didn’t make it up, but I love this game and what it does for my kids.

It’s exactly what it says, everybody’s it. Anyone can tag you, and you’re frozen. But, anyone can “unfreeze” you.

I set my timer and let them loose, and I watch.

They have evolved since the beginning of the year.

Everyone used to be out for themselves.

Now, they find a way to double back and unfreeze another student.

They call out the names of students that are frozen, knowing that they can’t get to them, but hoping someone else will.

They unfreeze, not only their friends, but any of their peers who are frozen.

They run like crazy, no one thinking they are too cool to play.

They have fun, and don’t take themselves so seriously.

I think one day before school ends, I’m going to put on my sneakers, and join in. With my knees I’ll be easy to catch, but with the relationships I’ve built with them. I know I won’t be frozen long!:)

“The Marble Run Challenge!”- STEMazing!

Sometimes you get tired of the “new” thing in education.

Well, I was tired of  hearing, reading, and/or discussing “STEM”or “STEAM”, whichever you prefer.
I really didn’t understand what the big deal was until we participated in Jen Wagner’s “Marble Run Challenge.”

Now don’t get me wrong, my kids code, we integrate tech, etc, but I had never done a STEM project.

The concept was simple. The kids had to design a structure for a marble to run through. We started out with time limits, but realized, due to our limited time, we would just concentrate on seeing how long it took the marble to make it through the structure.

Notice the use of the word “we”. This was a project that was guided by the students.

I wish I could teach like this all year. Talk about engagement! Every day, and I literally mean every day, they  BEGGED to work on their structures.

They worked on it during Quiet Time, so essentially it wasn’t Quiet Time anymore, but who cares? They worked on it during… whenever I could sneak some time in.

You know what? More learning went on in those moments…

The conversations.

The research.

The dedication.

The team names. Hilarious!:)

The collaboration.

Designing.

Troubleshooting.

Getting their own supplies(I was supposed to get the supplies, but they got tired of waiting for me.)

Calling, texting, using Google chat to talk to each other at home.

Resolving problems among themselves.(And calling out the slackers.)

Parents sending in supplies for their kids.

The willingness to try over and over and over.

We had a competition at the end, what they had all worked so hard for. Parents were invited. Some of the marbles went all the way through, some didn’t. But that was okay. They talked about the whys of their design. Ran the marble through their structure.(Or not). They had 3 chances and they could make adjustments. Loved hearing the conversations as they discussed what they could do differently to make it work.

Team Valor won! We all won. An amazing project that made a STEM believer out of me!

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