Dear Teacher, Before you hang that stoplight up for the new school year, please put yourself on red for a minute or two. Rethink the idea that hanging a large paper traffic light in …
I totally appreciate this article! I’ve observed many classrooms where they use this technique and it does embarass and shame children who have challenging behaviors. Instead of always focusing on the challenging behaviors we witness, we should reward children for modeling good behavior, and being active, respectful, engaging members of the community. Shaming children does nothing to help them grow as children, and children do not go to school to be shamed by their teachers. SO great! I’m going to share it with my professors and co-teacher!
We all have our moments. Those moments when we take a deep breath in, clench our fists, and grind our teeth. Those frustrating moments when we don’t want to listen anymore, and we just don’t care what anyone has to say about it.
When I have those moments, I take a walk…I count to ten…I listen to my favorite song. In Mrs. J’s classroom, the students go to the Take a Break chair.
Yes. Technically this chair is a time out chair. But, it’s time out 2.0…You can be sent to the chair or you can choose to go to the chair. Mrs. J explained the chair saying that it was meant for those moments when you just want to scream…Or, you just want to make the teacher scream.
Next to the chair sits a timer that is always set for three minutes. Once you sit in the chair, you start the timer, take some deep breaths, and wait for the three minutes to be up.
This technique works for most children. Often times they will be sent to the Take a Break chair once, and then never return to it. Or, they’ll go a couple of times a week for small offenses. The Take a Break chair is an effective classroom management strategy. For most children.
I’ll tell you more about that next time.
A little girl went home within the first half hour of school.
The conversation went something like this:
K: Miss O’Gara, I’m not feeling too good.
Me: What doesn’t feel good?
K: My head itches.
At that point, “K” was quickly escorted down to the nurses office. As it turns out, “K” had head lice.
"K" is what Mrs. J likes to call a "frequent flyer" of head lice. It’s funny what happens when you don’t know about a situation. You tend to assume the worst.
I have learned a lot about my students in the last week. “K” was not in school for the first and second day. She returned on the third day with a big smile on her face. At the end of the third day, I noted that “K” seemed to be in high spirits. She is very talkative, artistic, bright, and a keen reader.
What I didn’t know about “K” was that she and her family had been living out of her father’s car in the past year. She had recently moved into a home with her mother’s boyfriend, her mother, her siblings, and her father.
A tough situation to say the least. To “K”, day to day is never the same. Consistency can only be found in “school”, and that’s why “K” likes it so much.
It’s funny what happens when we assume. We miss out on the big picture. We miss out on getting to know people. If I hadn’t asked about “K” and her background, I would have missed out on a lot of information that will help me help her grow as a child.
In regards to locker organizers….Do second graders really need them? When I was a second grader, our class didn’t even HAVE lockers. Now, the children come to school with binders, folders, numerous school supplies, and…of all things…LOCKER ORGANIZERS.
I counted four of my students who came to school with locker organizers of one sort or another. Some were made for stacking books and binders. Others were made to stick to the inside of the door and hold pencils, pens, paper clips and the like.
I don’t know why locker organizers stuck out to me. There are high expectations for second grade. So high, that children need locker organizers in order to meet them…
Did you need a locker organizer in second grade?
Some pictures of the VERY colorful classroom! I’m feeling so lucky to be in Mrs. J’s second grade classroom.
Please please watch this. Coming from the standpoint of an educator, I can see both sides to this argument. One one side, I could see a parent merely telling their child to dress in gender appropriate clothing because they fear their child will be picked on if they do not. That fear of bullying and rejection is instinctual for a lot of parents. On the other hand, shouldn’t we be allowing our children to explore gender roles and the polarizing positions that are placed on them from birth? Shouldn’t children be able to describe why they chose to dress or act one way or another and be proud of who they are? To be honest, I’m not sure what I would have done in this situation. As much as I want my children to be free to express themselves in whatever existence they believe they are, I do not want my children or students to be ridiculed or hurt because of the opinions and cultures of other children. And as sad as it is to say this, they will be.
That is, according to Simon Hole and Grace Hall McEntee. I decided that I needed to give myself a day of reflection before I dove into the impressions of my first meeting with Mrs. J.
When I walked into the classroom, I quickly glanced around, taking in as much as I could without seeming overly eager to take pictures and notes on everything I saw. (Which, on the inside, I really wanted to do.) I sat with Mrs. J and introduced myself, hitting on certain points I thought she might appreciate; my love of music, my passion for culturally sensitive teaching and education, and my ambition to be a educator who differentiates my teaching for every family and child I encounter.
I then decided to talk to Mrs. J about my sophomore mid-year crisis. For those of you who don’t know what this is, I’ll keep it short. Half way through my sophomore year I thought that teaching might have been the wrong path for me to go down. I dabbled in the idea of switching into the nursing department, or even getting my LNA certificate from a local community college. After admittedly realizing that I get lightheaded at even the smallest sign of blood, I decided that I wanted to go into women’s studies. Then, I thought political science. After a long heartfelt talk with my second mother here at PSU (my boss), I remembered the reason I went into education in the first place. I really love working with children.
I explained all of this to Mrs. J. She sat, she listened, nodded and sympathized with me. Then, the kicker of a question was asked; “why do you love working with children?”
I realized I couldn’t answer. Not because I didn’t know, but because there were so many reasons that I didn’t know where to begin. I was babbling, and it sounded something like this.
I didn’t think it through before I went in for my interview. I was “winging it”, so to speak. And from the impressions I was getting, it really didn’t work.
I wish I had seen this sign before hand.
I still have a lot to think about in terms of this “interview” of sorts that I had with Mrs. J. When she asked what she expected out of this year, I simply stated that I expected to learn and grow in leaps and bounds, and that I wanted to be challenged, but confident, supported, but asked to go out on a limb.
When I asked what Mrs. J expected from me there was so much more. I mean, I think I expected that, but the explicitly detailed expectations that she had for me were more than I could handle on that rainy Wednesday afternoon. She knew everything she wanted me to do right down to specific activity protocol. This teacher is prepared.
So, what happens next for me? Well, I’ve already been in contact with my mentor-teacher twice in the past day. I’d say thats an amazing start. Tomorrow, I have an interview with her at the school, in her classroom. I’m excited for this because I will get to see the layout of the classroom, the materials available, and the environment and atmosphere that Mrs. J has created. I will then have an additional interview with Mrs. G, the principal of the Christa McAuliffe School, and then hopefully receive my final confirmation letter.
Although I was hoping to receive a placement in a third grade classroom, I wouldn’t say that I was disappointed by my placement in second grade. If anything, I felt inquisitive, challenged, and ready to begin. The words I believe I used were "I’m pumped."
So what happens next? For me, it is important to understand the culture of the school and city that I will be working in. Over the next three months I will be researching Concord; the city, the demographics, and the history. WIth that said, I also think it’s important to understand the culture of the school I will be working in. Here is where you can find a short biography on Christa McAuliffe, the “ordinary” (I’d call her extraordinary) schoolteacher who was sent into outer space to explore the cosmos. I’ll do a separate post singularly devoted to her soon.
For now, it’s back to finals week. I’ll be in the library with my nose in this book!