Posts Tagged ‘students’

A*Typical Day

May 18, 2016

So what does it look like to have a classroom where students’ social and emotional needs come before academic ones? It’s not a set of prepackaged lessons, or some slick videos. It’s the day to day slog of being a noticer, of knowing when there is an opportunity to set my loveys on a positive path when they need a nudge.

I could easily record a dozen of these a day. I’ll just share one.

Today I delayed my lesson with second graders so I could teach them why the word “duh” is hurtful. A kid said it about someone else’s response. So I stopped what we were doing to have that conversation. As in…

“When you say that word, you send a message that you think what they said is dumb. Is that the message you meant to send?”
(Shocked) “No.”
“I didn’t think so. That’s not you. But it does make others feel that way.”
(Another student) “Mrs. Levin, I thought dumb was a bad word.”
“I am so glad you asked. You’re right. It is. But…sometimes we need to be clear about things. Sometimes, even though we know it’s not a good word, sometimes it is the word that fits best. Has anyone ever had that feeling when someone has made us feel dumb about something?”
(All hands go up. Surprising, yet not, for a room of gifted students.)
“I thought so. Nobody likes that feeling. But using the word ‘duh’ makes other people feel that way.”
“So…’duh’ is like, ‘you’re dumb’ but shorter?”
“I suppose you can look at it that way.”
(Appreciative nods)
“Now…we have some readers’ theater to practice.”

 

Home Switch Home?

May 17, 2016

Here is the next installment of the fiction story I began. I even got brave enough to share it with my students today, opening it up to their comments. I’m happy to read yours, if you have them!

Part 1

June 16

I am sick and tired
Of sharing this space,
Sick and tired
Of finding HIS junk
Under MY bed
Sick and tired
Of the cramping
The crowding
The noise
The sharing
The “cozy”
And I just want
Space to
Breathe.

June 17

Friday night,
Restaurant night
Not much noise
From our regular booth
Above the chattering chopsticks
And the clink of spoons
Against empty plates.
Even HE is quiet tonight.
My hands crack a
Stale fortune cookie
To reveal lottery numbers
And a cheesy fortune:

“YOU CAN STAY IN ONE PLACE AND STILL GROW.”

Whatever.
Those things never make sense.
I jam the scrap of paper
Into my pocket as we
Make our way
Home.

My Sweet Pittle Loem

May 4, 2015

Ever hear of spoonerisms?

I asked my first graders to write poems in that style. They had so much fun I thought I’d join in. Here’s my attempt. Keep in mind that these poems are best when you read them out loud. It’s fun to hear the sounds and experiment with them. Give it a go!

The Learded Bady

Stere’s a hory about a learded bady
Her hacial fair was wick and theighty.
It ew grout from her tin to her choes
Abound her relly and nack up to her bose.

One dine fay, she gaw a suy
With a bicker theard, just bassin’ py.
She thiled and smought, “That’s mo I’ll wharry.”
And the wouple was cedded the fext Nebruary.

The two gived tolether in sweet bledded wiss
They darted each stay with a kug and a hiss.
And lon’t dook now, but I mink that thaybe
There soon will be a cute bairy haby.

Seesaw Kind of Day

February 18, 2015

I had an up and down day teaching today. On the plus side, I got to sit back and just take notes during discussions while groups of students held insightful, incredibly rich conversations about the nature of violence and compassion, and what impact those attributes have on society. Yes. Inspiring. It always is when people can make me think of things in ways I had never expected.

I also had to work with a student through some really difficult choices he had been making.

Times like these make me question how I’m really doing. Sure, I say that I prioritize my students’ social and emotional well-being.

Still.

There have been so many times across the years where I honestly believe I’m acting in a child’s best interests. There have been times where I feel so sure I am taking the compassionate approach to problems my students face. And then, looking back, I wonder if I have done the right thing.

Should I have gone softer, or taken a harder line?
Should I have brought in the parents when I did, or should I have waited for things to develop?
Should I have let more time pass, or should I have been more immediate in my actions?
Should I have involved other people, or should I have handled things on my own?

There are places where I know I haven’t chosen well, and I continue to think about those children long past their schooling years. These are the children I have always “taken home” with me at night. These are the ones I continue to think about, even as my own kids come to me for guidance and support with their struggles. These are the children whose parents I want to say, “I know it’s hard. I know parenting stinks sometimes. But your kid will be okay. We will all be okay.”

Because I have to believe that things will be okay. That sometimes life gets bumpy, and we have people along the way to help us see our path more clearly.

Until then, I’ll be thinking of them as I cook dinner. Or walk the dogs. Or fold the laundry. Or…

Testing, Testing…

January 15, 2015

Now THIS sums up exactly how I view children, and how I view testing.

Yes, testing gives us a “snapshot” of student achievement. And those of you who know how much I love numbers understand how I appreciate data.

But.

We.
Are.
Working.
With.
Children.

With people.

Complex, confusing, beautiful
PEOPLE.

Click to see this video (about 4 minutes) of Peter H. Reynold’s “The Testing Camera,” and get a little perspective.

Watch. Enjoy. Share.

Resolution: Another Direction

January 6, 2015

Today, my fourth graders discussed the layers of conflict in Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. Kids worked together to find evidence in the text for conflicts involving Man vs. Man, Man vs. Self, and Man vs. Nature. (And yes, for the pedants out there, we did talk about how “Man” meant “People.” It’s all good, I promise.)

Kids gathered evidence to highlight conflicts that Brian, the main character, struggled with, and evidence demonstrating a resolution of those conflicts.

Which got me thinking.
(That’s when the fun REALLY begins.)

Here’s what I asked the kids. We have these three types of conflict. But what, exactly, does it take to RESOLVE those conflicts? To get past them, to work through them, to make things better?

The result was a brainstorming session and an incredibly insightful conversation. Here’s a picture of where our thinking went:

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b1e/6908709/files/2015/01/img_0178.jpg

It gave us a chance to wrestle with some pretty tough questions:
*Must we have an apology before we can offer forgiveness?
*How is conflict with ourselves like conflict with others?
*What does it take to bridge the gap between the vision we have for ourselves, and the reality we see in ourselves?

Pretty amazing stuff, if you ask me. It’s one more reason to get up in the mornings, and just one more way the kids I work with excite, teach and inspire me.