Saturday, March 10, 2018

sol #10: (almost) all heart

On Valentine's Day, we did the Warm Fuzzies, like I do EVERY YEAR. It's my favorite community building activity. That day, as he handed me a warm fuzzy, one kiddo said, "I'm going to remember my 8th grade heart."

This got me thinking about how I do business. How I do classroom management. It's by heart. I pull on heart strings to get kids to work and take risks.

Here are a few ways...

Every Monday, kids begin their day with a Monday Meeting letter. (Adapted from Responsive Classroom's Morning Meeting.) It's just an ongoing google doc with the newest letter at the top, and I tell them what is going on this week, share some celebrations, provide feedback, etc. I like this because it's authentic reading (and in some cases, writing, too.) Here's a sample -->

We also do celebrations. On Monday, someone gets an award for something. After Parkland, I was reminded of this blog again, and since have been asking kids to nominate someone for the award. It's cool now because they are nominated by their peers. And kids are funny, too. A few have nominated themselves a few times; I laugh! If they can create a good argument for their award, I'd give it to them!

We have some flexible seating, too, and regularly gather in a circle on the rug for sharing. The circle is important - no one can be siting outside the circle, so we make room for all. We use a talking turtle, to engaged everyone in listening. As the year goes on, kids continue to build trust and share even more easily.

I also tell kids I love them all the time. I sign our letters that way, I tell them 1:1 when needed, I tell them that as they leave my class. I mean it too, I love those kids. But when they mess up, they hear it from me, too. I have boundaries and high expectations, and I don't let stuff slip. So they make a mistake, fine. We talk about it. Then I end by telling them, "I wouldn't get this upset if I didn't care about you."

And Ohana. We just did a building-wide parent engagement assignment about what Ohana means and why it's important in our school. I used to just call us a family, but I think I'm going to use Ohana exclusively now. They know what it means, we watch out for one another. We're family and we bicker and argue, and have fun and sometimes hurt one another's feelings, but at the end of the day, we're home in room 230.

And blogging. Do you have any idea how much community you can build with blogging, specifically with the Slice of Life challenge? My kids are writing stories of their lives, sharing them with their peers and wider community, and I'm able to learn so much about them. About their families, about their friends and boys, when they get "exposed" by peers, when they are sad, and on and on and on.

Obviously, instruction is important to me, and I want to learn the most effective ways to engage kids in literacy and grow them as readers and writers. But what I care about even more than that is that they feel safe in my class, that they know I care so they will take risks.

It's because of that I'm more heart than instruction.

Thing is, it works.

My kids learn BECAUSE I love them so.

I couldn't imagine another life's work for me. I'm so thankful I get to teach kids.

1 comment:

  1. You have built an AMAZING community in our classroom and I have learned SO MUCH from you this year. Thanks for showing me that sometimes the best lessons are the ones not in the plans!


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