Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dork and Wimpy Kid Woes

Hey there gang!  I am wondering if I can get some feedback from some many y'all (hey, I live in the south and 'when in Rome', right?).  When you're in the workshop model, do you dictate the type of books that your children read?  I typically have them reading from a chapter book on their level but have run into a lot of Diary (Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries) readers.  Do you feel like you're getting well thought out, higher-order-thinking-type responses from your children that actually apply the skill taught in the mini-lesson?  I feel like I'm at a crossroads and am really not wanting them to read those while applying the skill, but then at the same time it means I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth because it is, by definition, a chapter book and they're leveled at or near the child's level (EXCEPT it does NOT follow the five-finger rule).

What are your thoughts?  Do you allow your children to read the comic book style chapter books for mini-lesson application?
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Behavior Overhaul

I am embarrassed that I even have to admit this, but I had to COMPLETELY change my behavioral plan.  I've been teaching about ten years now and can honestly say that I've never felt that my classroom management was a weak area in need of development.  I run a tight ship and my kids and their parents know that.  I also adore my little monsters and do everything with the best of their interests in my heart.  I care about them as miniature humans and that is never questioned by anyone who spends any time around me with my students.

That all being said, I have been spinning my wheels with a majority of my children this year.  My rules and the enforcement of them have been (what feels like) a huge joke to them and them showing respect to myself and other adults on campus is the punchline.  That has to be the case.  Why else would they continually interrupt me or stop me, mid-sentence while giving directions, to ask me about something completely unrelated OR about something that I haven't gotten to yet because I am still going over the assignment/expectations?

Care for an example?  Perhaps that would help to build perspective.  We have a library slot on Fridays at the end of the day.  I get my homeroom back at 2:10, and we have library from 2:10-2:25 with dismissal at 2:42.  This would leave me about 17 minutes to get a quick social studies lesson either started or finished. So last week, I am rushing them all into my room at the end of the day and reminding them that this is our only time all week to get to the school library to exchange books. "Please go into the room, set your things down, and immediately line back up to go to the library.  Remember, if you are renewing your book you need to grab it because we have returned the other books already."

Now, as I'm greeting the children back into the room, I have a child who has stopped me twice to try and ask/tell me something. I have told him both times that now was not the time because I have to get everyone to the library and back.  The children are attempting to get in line to go (by now it is 2:20) and yet another young man walks over to me as I am giving verbal reminders to interrupt me and ask me something.  I don't even remember what it was because I stopped him mid-interrupting-the-teacher-sentence to ask him if this was something that I absolutely HAD to keep 21 other children from going to the library for or could it wait until I get back.  He's attempting to tell me that it could wait when from the other side of the room, the first interrupting child shouts (not exaggerating, it literally startled me), "YES!"

I look at the other child, mouth agape, I'm sure, and ask him what it was.  "I left my lunch box on the playground!"

*DEEP's Friday after all*

I wasn't even sure where to start because so many responses were running through my head as this fifth grader felt it was imperative I keep books out of the hands of 22 children (including him) so that he could go get his lunch box on the playground.  I am not even kidding you when I say that I saw three hands fly up to the mouths of the children muffling their laughs because this was wildly inappropriate in the given setting.  I turned to my line leader and said, calmly and oh so defeated, "Go, please."

Now, as the majority of the children are leaving the room, another sweet face raises her hand..."It can't wait?"  She says, "Can I bring my own book to read at the library since I'm not checking anything out?"  Uhhh, yeah, I think the library is a safe place to bring a book to read, I thought to myself.  "Yes, please do," I actually said.

I mentioned the time for a reason.  We have lunch with our first period groups.  First period ends at 12:10.  It had been out there for over two hours and he needed to go out RIGHT NOW to go get it.  After we got back to the classroom I sent him with two students, my keys, and a walkie talkie because this is at dismissal time and they would not be going where teachers would be standing.  It was gone--probably at the Lost and Found--but here's the kicker.  He was going DIRECTLY PAST THAT PLAYGROUND on his way home.  UGH.

Oh and Ps, the OTHER child with a pressing interruption...he had a club to stay after school for and he wasn't sure which line he'd need to go to.  After library.  After social studies.  At dismissal.  In 30 or so minutes.  I think my liver is starting to hurt just thinking about all of that again.  And THAT, my friends, was a Friday.

I know that doesn't sound like a very big deal, and it really isn't.  If it were isolated.  However it is not.  My entire days have been filled with a series of moments just like that.

Sooooo, I researched what I could be doing wrong. After all, if you continue to do the same thing and expect different results and all...

I put on my big girl pants and decided to change what had been working (very well, I might add) for nine years.  What I've decided on is Whole Brain Teaching.  I am still kind of terrified going into it (I started on Monday) but it seems to be that at least 1/3 of my children are embracing it with open arms and welcoming smiles.  That's a start and it's more than they gave me at the beginning of the school year one short long month ago.  *sigh*

How about you all?  Any words of the wise that you can share or positive experiences with WBT that will be encouraging?  I just can't lose another month of instruction trying to get these munchkins to value what I do and who I am so that I can complete a sentence...

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