Tuesday, April 22, 2014

From Director to Facilitator:Losing Control of the Classroom!

The other day I witnessed an interaction in my classroom that made me realize that my students were where I wanted them to be, independent of me.:)

My students were writing blog posts about our trip to Frawley Stadium. They were inserting pics from a Google Folder. This was a new concept, so I taught one or two of them. Teach two, they teach the rest.

I could see one of my students struggling at the back table. Although I was standing right beside her, she didn't say a word to me, did not bother to ask for help. She stood up, walked over to the desktop computers, and asked a student I had previously taught for help. That student walked over, and proceeded to guide her through the process. Listening to the way this student patiently explained it to the struggling student made me proud.:) Why? I was not part of the equation. They did not need me.

How many of us can let go of control in our classrooms?

How many of us can allow students to ignore us, and turn to their classmates?

How many of us can do this? Especially those of us who have believed that discipline and classroom management comes from rows in single file, and no talking?

That's the tradition I come from, but I relinquished that power a while ago.

Is my room a perfect slice of heaven? By no means! I have the same issues other classrooms may have. Disrespectful students, bickering, tattling, bullying, and/or students who don't want to work, but it doesn't happen often. I have 20 students this year, but it has worked with 27. I have students of all races, and they are not all "gifted." So, there's no, "Oh now I see how you do it!" here.

Here's how I managed:
  • strong, classroom management (There has to be structure)
  • build a sense of community (I use Responsive Classroom)
  • allow students to move without permission
  • get rid of rows (My students decided how they wanted the desks)
  • let students be part of the decision-making process (That was difficult for me)
  • let go of direct instruction every minute of the day
  • upped engagement in the classroom (integrating tech in my classroom has enhanced my lessons, not replaced them)
I love having  students who work cooperatively, think creatively, and continue to amaze me with their ownership of our classroom!

 photo credit: Boston Public Library via photopin cc

Friday, April 18, 2014

"From Nothing to Something":Thank a Teacher!

The words in the title are not my words.

As I was making my way home from a loooong day that was a combination of my 5th grade babies and my hour stint as a Read Aloud volunteer, I was listening to the radio station, winding down  from a day of all children, all the time.

The question being asked of callers was, "Which teacher would you like to thank, and why?"  According to the host, the lines were lit up ever since the question was asked. Caller after caller, named a teacher that was near and dear to them. That teacher they never forgot, could never forget.

It seemed that their responses shared a common theme. Surprisingly, not one of them said that they remembered the teacher that got them to pass a standardized test. :)

I listened to callers talk about teachers. A teacher who "took them from nothing to something." The teacher that was "strict, but showed them mother-love", the multitude of teachers that would not give up on a child, even if giving up seemed to make the most sense. You could tell from the passion in their voices, that these teachers they spoke of, were not in it for summer vacation, days off, or benefits, they were in it for those kids.

It just seems that in order to make that kind of impression on a person...you know teachers have the ability to do just that.

In order to make that kind of impression on a person...these were not children calling in, these were adults.

In order to make that kind of impression on a person...where they remember not only the grade, but your full name, you had to mean something, you had to do something that stuck.

You were so much more than a teacher, you were what connected them to wherever they were headed.

I am fortunate to have taught so many years, and to be on the receiving end of visits and/or emails from former students. What a wonderful feeling to know you have touched someone's life so deeply.

I know we all don't take a child "from nothing to something.", but we make a difference. We care, we love, we matter.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Field Trippin!:Take Me Out to the Ball Game- No Educational Experience Required!

Sometimes kids just need a day out and away, an escape from
Common Core, Standardized testing, close reading, non-fiction, an escape.
Teachers need it too.
And when we are out together, having fun, it just makes for a good day!:)

fresh air.
baseball. (Have to be honest, out of 9 innings, I only saw 4 plays.)
conversation- student to student, student to teacher, teacher to parents, and teacher to my now middle school babies who attended the game as well.
food - hot dogs,  Crab fries-Can you say yummy?
selfies- never saw so many selfies being taken in my life! (Ok, yeah,the teachers took one too)
real world math - "Look, Mrs.M, (pointing to scoreboard), decimals!" (LOVE it)

Discover paid for our kids to attend a Minor League baseball game. Just a day out, teachers, students, and parents chillaxing at the ball game. It was great! A chance to get to know each other away from the confines of the classroom. Nice.:)

My babies will blog about it, so that others can share in their excitement. Stuck all our pics in a Google folder, and shared it with them all. So, even if they didn't take pics, they have access to them. If they took pics, they added them.

Also, going to work on creating a Narrable of our trip.(HAVE to find the time!) We have our headphones from DonorsChoose, so it will be easy to have students record their voices.

fresh air

We were field trippin, and we loved it!:)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Childhood, Where Art Thou? Why Can't Kids Be Kids?

My girls are coming in with highlights in their hair.
I'm not even thinking about the damage coloring can do to one's hair, it just seems to me to be one of those things you wait to do when you grow up.
You know.
Like going to the spa.
Traveling the world.
Hotel parties.
Having boyfriends and girlfriends.
Getting a mani-pedi.
Staying up all night.
Seeing R-rated movies.

Our kids are doing all these things as children, and it makes me wonder what they will do when they get older.
What will they do for excitement?
If you have done all the things you wanted to do when you grew up, what do you yearn for when you grow up? What do you wish for?
Is anything left?

I know.
We want to give our kids what we didn't have.
I can see the pros and the cons of that want.

You know what I want? I want them to go outside and play.
I want them to enjoy movies appropriate for children.
I want them to have something exciting waiting for them when they "grow up."
I want them to understand that there's nothing wrong with laughing at something dorky, or singing a silly tune.
I want them to know they will be a child once.

And I just hope that no matter what goes on outside of school, they know that they can be a child, just a child, highlights and all, within our classroom walls!

photo credit: roseannadana via photopin cc
Kids: conversations