Thursday, October 5, 2017
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Later, during the student presentations on deserts, I watched one boy pass a sheet of paper to the first student I confiscated the Poysinus essay from. I confiscated that paper, too. Well, actually, it was two papers. It was the Poysinus essay, completed, as well as math homework, and a spelling test all belonging to a fictional student named Fred. Apparently he is 5 years old.
When class ended, I was able to look at the papers. I present them here for your enjoyment and have transcribed them below in case you can't read the pictures.
Thursday, September 7, 2017
1 six-limbed fidget spinner
5 magnets of varying sizes, all round
Minutes of silence: 6
1 half finished comic style drawing
2 books (Captain Underpants and The Lightning Thief)
The smart watch phone part of a smart watch
Most of the math homework
3 class dollars
New Pet Peeves:
Getting in a fight with an inanimate object. And losing.
Forgetting someone was coming to my lesson to help out.
Things I graded:
All of them.
Things I am grateful for:
The student in charge of the calendar remembered his job.
The back row of desks did not move further back during the day.
My instructor (teacher's aide) watched my class while I took two students to finish their tests.
The Dean of students (assistant vice principal?) gave me constructive feedback for the part of the lesson he observed.
We got to the read aloud today. Students even asked for it.
Two of my students changed my schedule for me.
Planning tomorrow didn't take as long as it usually does.
The upstairs printer is working again.
My students read the instructions on the whiteboard and follow them.
I remembered a water bottle.
"Miss Maddox, you have something sticking out of your hair, not your pen."
It was a bobby pin.
Running back up to the workroom just qbefore recess ended, because, despite having already been there, I'd forgotten to get posters. Which is why I went up there.
"Brexit! India! Stop flirting."
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
"Here, Miss Maddox, I made this for you. It's Catwoman."
"Thank you, [name of small child who has spent who knows how much of the day recreating Harley Quinn and associates on small pieces of paper]." Do I remind you of Catwoman?
At least she got her homework done.
Making Miss 7th Grade Math cry because I said she was running when she probably was just walking fast. We were playing a game at the whiteboard where they had to write the name of the continent or ocean on the correct continent or ocean. Don't worry, I knew she was fine when she laughed at the antics of a short boy who jumped to try to reach the top of the board so he could write "Arctic Ocean".
Drawing a world map on the board, freehand, because your computer crashed again right before recess.
Making your students pronounce Pangea correctly, because if they're going to insult your world map you've just drawn on the board, they had better say it correctly.
Wondering why there are students in your class who are supposed to be back in their homeroom at that moment.
Making the new student think you're crazy because you're hyped about reading "Frindle." And you're doing echo reading but your reading is WAAAAAY over the TOP! So she's super confused why everyone is excited about reading.
Trying to plan for the next day even though you want to go home and sleep.
Taking down the "Fidget Spinners for Sale" sign from a student's locker and having a conversation with the student that selling banned objects at school is a bad idea.
Observing another teacher's lesson at the beginning of prep so you can teach better.
Changing the schedule only to have your students point out that it's wrong.
Way more papers on the ground than have even been passed out.
"I'm cleaning under my desk, because I was putting my homework away and I realized it's a big mess down there."
At least he also finished his homework.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
When I returned to the front of the class, this student (Sir Talksalot) was not moving at his desk. His head was resting on his fist. The students in his group told me the thought he was asleep. He mumbled out a taciturn reply letting me know that he wasn't asleep and he was very, very upset about something. (It was one word. It was half a word. The other students had no idea what was happening.)
"Sir Talksalot," I said, "what's going on?"
"THEM!" He said, not bothering to whisper. "They won't stop talking! I was supposed to read the question but they won't stupid listen! It's so stupid! They're being so stupid! I know what teachers feel like! They can't hear me! They won't stupid listen!"
Oh. I thought as I listened to his rant. A light bulb went off. Lightening struck my brain. Oh. They wouldn't stop talking? It was frustrating him? It was frustrating him, the student who would not stop talking from the moment he stepped foot in my class? The student who was only in my class for math and because of whom I gave my small math groups my class money?
OH. This was indeed good information to have.
"How does that make you feel, when they're talking when it's your turn?" I asked him.
"It's so annoying!"
"Yeah! And frustrating! They won't know what to do because they won't listen!"
"Ok," I said, "are they the only ones in your group who are to blame for this problem? What I mean is are there more people in your group besides them who aren't listening?"
He thought for a second, "Yeah."
"Ok. So there are ways that are effective and not effective for helping people pay attention. And you've seen that, right?"
"Yeah, like asking them doesn't work. Like I say for them to shut their pie holes and they don't do anything."
"Right. Ok. So I'm going--Can I give you some advice? Is that ok? Ok, so one thing that works really well is complimenting the people that are listening. So if someone is paying attention, thank them for it."
"Ok," he said.
"And another thing is making sure to be the example. So if you're always paying attention then that's going to help them pay attention, too."
"So do you think you can do that?"
"Yeah," he nodded.
"Alright, head on back to your seat."
Tomorrow's math class might look the same as today's. It might look the same as yesterday's. It might look the same as Monday's. But he listened just a little bit more today after that. He sat up just a little bit straighter. He worked just a little bit harder.
And for me, really, that's a breakthrough.
Monday, August 21, 2017
There's a scene in a Toy Story movie where a toy tells Jessie, "Jessie! Remember your training!"
To which she replies, "But I don't have any training!"
Today felt a lot like this. And the only trouble is, I've had training. A lot of it.
But tomorrow is a new day and I can do better then. At the very least, I'll have remembered my training. Or, you know, some of it.
Friday, August 18, 2017
How did this happen, you ask? Well, I accidentally gave the one already broken desk to one of my students who was going to figure out how to break it further. So of course, LU figured out how to break it further.
She didn't mean to break it more, I'm sure. Instead, what I think she was trying to do was get out of her desk. Why? I'm not sure. I was teaching, which meant she was supposed to be in her desk. But now it was broken so her sitting in it was no longer an option if she wanted to be productive.
So I had her move to the round table at the back of the classroom.
At first, I thought this was a bad move. She talked to the T.A. back there. She whispered to the T.A. back there. She listened to the T.A. back there.
And then, on second reflection, I realized she also was reading the constitution I left back there and adding to our conversation by saying things like, "We could do ____, because it says it in the Constitution." This was really cool because it helped the discussion like icing on cake.
Of course, her desk couldn't stay broken, and she couldn't stay at the back of the classroom (distractions and all that), so the Dean of Students at my school came and fixed the desk after classes ended. Which was really, really nice of him.
When LU got to class this morning the first thing out of her mouth was, "Yay! My desk isn't broken!" And, maybe unsurprisingly, she paid much better attention in class today.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Today we wrote our class constitution.
in order to form a more perfect classroom,
This lesson went way better than the one on Socrates.
to establish order,
This was partially because I totally knew what I was doing with the constitution lesson; I've taught it before.
to present ourselves well,
It was also partially because I do not know nearly as much about Socrates as I thought I did.
Though, come to think of it, the content was not bad.
so we can make progress in our selves,
But the management could have been better.
and our classroom,
In the end, I think something stuck. I think they maybe learned something.
and educate our lives.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
1. There was a wasp in my classroom. Don't worry, it didn't sting anyone. It didn't really bother anyone but me when I stood near it. It decided to hang out on the window until an aide helped me capture it in a cup and take it outside.
2. I told all of my students that when I was being shown my class list, they looked it over and were like, "Oh they're a good student. Oh that's a good student. Oh, all of these kids are good students. Your whole class is full of good students." I think they even believed me.
3. I used the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to set up rules for my classroom. This is a truly brilliant idea that I thank my mother for. What better way to teach that a classroom needs rules than to say that the early colonists wrote the Declaration to tell King George that here was the list of 28 specific rules that he broke in very egregious ways and they weren't going to be under that rule anymore. Then talk about how the most brilliant and bright men of each state was sent to a Constitutional Convention where they wrote all the rules they were going to follow. Then they all signed their names. We're going to do that tomorrow.
4. I learned how to use the laminator.
AHA! AND! I ordered Book Catalogs from Scholastic Book. Now my students can order books and I can get points and I can order books and get points and I can build my class library.
Things that did not happen today:
1. Death. Nobody died. I'd say that's a pretty big plus for me as a teacher.
2. I did not make anyone cry today. Also a good thing for a first day.
3. Dragons. Dragons did not happen today and I am informed there are none in my school. At least, none that will chase you down the hallways. The dragons on my wall are purely for show. They cannot come alive.
4. A pencil sharpener that stayed working the entire day. Well, it's not like I haven't gone to the store almost every day for the past week and a half to get stuff for my classroom. So. I have to go to the store again.
But on the bright side, I have students who are more than willing to sharpen all my pencils for me. So that's a plus.
Friday, March 31, 2017
This despite students having to pay me class dollars for not turning in their homework.
This despite students having to take an unannounced math quiz.
This despite making them all stay in their seats while each of them told me something they learned in their science rotations instead of going one by one down to lunch.
This despite not getting computers for typing and we did the read aloud for 20 minutes instead.
Zero tears. Not bad for a Friday before spring break.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
"Everything that's supposed to be white is pink!" A tremendously horrid thing if one is him.
Blobfish Lover took it upon herself to announce it to everyone in the room as they walked in.
But it didn't prevent him from learning, so that's a plus, I guess.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Like he ran into a tree? Like someone rammed him into the tree? Like he picked up a branch off the ground and it got thrown at his face?
He was last in line. Mostly because he was stumbling along the sidewalk, like he wasn't sure of where to walk. Like he couldn't quite see the door where I was standing.
When he finally reached me, aided by another student, I had him look at me. His eyes were bloodshot and he was crying. But not "I'm crying because it hurts," tears. It was more like, "My eyes are expelling a foreign object by producing extra water and the extra water just happens to be coming out of my eyes like unto tears. I'm not crying."
"Okay look at me. Now look to the left. No. Turn your head back toward me and move your eyes to the left. No. Wait, that is your left. I meant your right. My bad. Can you see? You don't look like you have anything in your eyes."
"I can't see!"
Got it. So, probably send him to the nurse's office. But I had to see how he would do walking down the hall first.
First, he tripped. Then he couldn't find the line. Then, apparently, "I can only see red and blue now!"
I had another student, Alberto, direct him down the hall to the nurse's office. Hopefully, I thought as I took the rest of my class up the stairs to our classroom, they would make it there alive. A minute after we got settled, Alberto returned and joined us for math.
Halfway through math, T.U. stumbled into the room and made his way clumsily to his cubby.
"What did she say?" I asked him
"She said to get my stuff."
"Are you getting checked out?"
"I don't know, all she said was to get my stuff. Can I have someone help me back downstairs?"
Yes, he did get someone to help him down the stairs and I guess he did get checked out because later, when we had an unscheduled fire drill, he didn't come out of the building, even though the nurse did.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Monday, March 27, 2017
Less than a moment later I heard the tears from behind me.
In front of me, at my kidney table, were 3 girls who were trying to partner read "The BFG". They glanced up at the crying student apprehensively. Was I just going to let her cry there? Was I not going to do anything? Was I not going to do anything like earlier when this student had made another student cry? (Yeah. Fun morning.)
I directed the three girls back to their books and asked them to keep reading while I listened. As the tears behind me subsided and stopped, I turned to her and took the time to talk to her about what was gong on and how her behavior could improve.
While I did this, the three girls in my group kept reading their book. And they kept reading their book. And they kept reading their book. And they let me take care of the student who had been crying.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
One week of students attempting to learn.
One week of math lessons.
One week of students wishing they were outside.
One week of reading every day for 30 minutes.
One week of figuring out something for Blobfish Lover and Miss Fifth Grade Math to do when they've finished the assignment quickly.
One week of pushing all my students to take A.R. tests so they can meet their goal.
One week with my team all together.
One week of hopefully no suspensions.
One week of looking forward to the weekend.
One long, long week
Saturday, March 25, 2017
- Finish planning math.
- Check up on the student who has a magical star stamp that's supposed to help her be kinder.
- Update the grades sheet.
- Find the pre-tests I somehow lost.
- Figure out how to help all of them pass off "Good Timber".
- Find a new poem to memorize.
- Practice my flute so it sounds fine when I play for them on Tuesday.
- Come up with a new way to help Blobfish Lover behave.
- Come up with a new way to help Arts and Tanks boy behave.
Friday, March 24, 2017
I convinced a student that a star stamp was magical and that carrying it around would help the magic seep into her and help her be kinder to everyone.
I convinced a student to write down something nice about everyone in our classroom. When she's finished, she's going to tell everyone what she wrote about them (the list will be approved first).
I took my students to two assemblies in one day. Once with chairs, once without. For the second assembly I had to convince them it was okay not to take their backpacks down, even though they knew it was the last thing we had planned for the day.
I taught science to a class that had had a substitute for 2 days and they even payed attention to everything. Mostly.
I pulled a bunch of worksheets out of nowhere for the 3 students in 2 days who had some sort of in school suspension. They weren't in my class, but their teachers were gone and the poor substitutes had no idea what to do.
I taught all week even though I didn't get much sleep most nights.
It's a good thing my class motto is "I can do hard things" or I don't know if I'd've made it through this week.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
In my opinion that you should read lord of the rings.
First the book is so entsting
Or that red underlining to the word means it's been spelled incorrectly, even though I've showed all of them individually how to fix it.
If the the movie is good the book is and it has evil parts the book can keep your muscles resting
the book can help your reading skills and can help your a.r testing.
My other students show me things they've written, too. Sometimes I have to stare at their words for a while before I realize what it is they are trying to say. For example, I've been staring at an essay for an hour and just realized that accurse is supposed to be accuracy. At least I didn't also have to decipher handwriting.
This is a type of book to keep you going.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The term started Monday.
I went over to talk to her as she was reading.
"Miss Fifth Grade Math," I said to her, "I've noticed you've basically met your AR goal for this term." She gave an I'm-completely-innocent-and-I-really-did-read-all-those-books smile. I smiled back and continued, "I've realized that your goal isn't high enough. I'm going to double it. It's going to be 60 AR points."
She took a deep breath and then consented.
The day is long since done, but from that point to the end of school she earned 6.5 more points. And a challenge to have the highest AR score at the end of term. A challenge I issued to my top 6 readers (really because one student wanted a battle to the death with AR points and I realized she needed some competition to reach her goal of 36 points).
Tomorrow she'll have earned probably at least 6 more points. Friday she'll earn the same, and Monday about 15. But maybe, just maybe, the other students with the challenge will be able to keep up with her.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Stop complaining, I yelled at them in my head. Do something good instead. But I didn't yell. That wouldn't have worked. That would have done the opposite of what I wanted. So I decided to try something new. Something my language arts professor had taught me when I was in school.
"Okay, everyone. You all have a piece of paper I just gave you. On this paper, you are to write down everything you are frustrated about, everything you want to complain about, everything you hate, or are mad at."
Some of them thought I was crazy. Some of them have had absolutely nothing to complain about since the beginning of the year. I made them do it anyway.
"Spelling doesn't matter," I told them. "No one is going to look at these but you. Keep writing."
When I decided that time was up, I had them stop. One of them wanted to share. I told them no.
"Okay, now what you are going to do, is take your paper and crumple it up. And this is the only time you can do this, but you need to throw it at the garbage." I crumpled up my own to demonstrate and threw it at the garbage. It landed at my feet because I'm an amazing thrower in my classroom.
Some of them crumpled it up, some of them tore it up. All but one threw it away. I hope it's valuable for her.
Then I gave them a new piece of paper.
"On this paper, you are going to write everything you like right now, things that make you happy, things you love, things you like. If you can't think of anything, just write the same thing over and over again."
They began again. A few asked if they were going to throw this away too.
"Why would you want to throw your good things away?" I asked them.
A few asked if they could read their's aloud.
I said no. Mostly because Blobfish Lover would have read the name of the boy she kissed a few months ago and isn't allowed to play with anymore. And she'd have read it upwards of 20 times because she wrote it over and over and over and over again.
Then we discussed how they felt when they wrote the first things. The negative things. They felt angry, mostly. And how did they feel when they threw it away? Relieved was the consensus.
How did they feel when they wrote the positive? Good. How easy was it? Harder than the negative, because they practice the negative more often.
But now we're going to practice the positive. It felt happier. It felt good. So that's what we're going to do. All of my students and myself included.
Monday, March 20, 2017
I forgot how effective it was. I mean, minus the part where one student wailed and hid under her desk just before free-time and had a freak-out because I raised all of their AR goals for this term (her's raised one point, she'll be fine.)
The really fun part, though, was focusing more on the students who are always good and letting them have all the attention they need. Students like Ashaleighey and Veronica (who, coincidentally, on the last test said, in answer to the question: if you could have any other name what would it be, put Veronica, which means that I picked a good pseudonym for her), my quiet ones who have already begun working on their new AR goal.
I'm going to do it again tomorrow. And the day after that, and the day after that.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Sunday night, almost bedtime.
Sunday night, almost bedtime, starting lesson plans.
It's a good thing a teacher on my team taught me how to take Go Math lessons and turn them into guided inquiry lessons or my students would be bored out of their minds tomorrow during math. And then somehow Monday would turn into another Friday.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Friday, March 17, 2017
Somehow, even though we weren't going to have anything St. Patrick's day fun they talked me into believing in their extremely good behavior and we had a leprechaun drawing contest instead of free-time.
Somehow, though it was not my intention and it will not happen again, I offended half the boys in my classroom and some of the girls as well.
Somehow, though my tricks haven't been working this week, I got my class to be quiet while they were waiting to go into the other teacher's class for science (thank you sign language basics.)
Somehow, even though the computer teacher/tech guy got a new job and hasn't been here all week, we got the computers for typing. They were even unlocked.
Somehow, even though we worked on it this week, and all year, all of my students forgot how to do word problems.
Somehow, and I'm sure his goal needs to be higher next term, Alberto met his AR goal at the very last minute.
Somehow, though I don't know exactly how, I'll have a better day on Monday.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
I did my best to prepare. I set out her notebooks, folders, morning work, and pencil. I made her an envelope for her class money. I added a class job just so she would have one and feel special. I made her a nametag.
I waited with baited breath as the day began and for the office secretary to bring her up to my classroom.
From the moment she stepped into my classroom she brought a new cheerful light. She always smiled. She quickly got the hang of everything. She became friends with everyone. She asked questions, she shared her experiences, she gave her ideas, she shared what she'd learned in her old school.
She was learning. She was making progress.
Then, one month later, just after Valentine's day, she brought notes in for everyone in the class.
"My family moved back!" she told me. "This note is for you!" It came with a chocolate heart taped to the envelope. I watched as she passed the other handwritten notes out to all of my other students in the class.
She spent that one last day with us, and just like that, just like she'd came, she was gone.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
She was quiet all day. As the day went on she got a little bit louder and a little bit louder. During writing time, when my students were taking their opinion essay test, I helped her take her opinion essay pre-test.
"You have opinions on things," I told her using the first example that came to my mind. "You have an opinion on moving here, whether you wanted to or didn't want to. Write about that. It needs to be five paragraphs."
She worked diligently. When she was done she came to show me her essay and I helped her set up her school gmail account so she could type it up. When it was time for recess she said to me, "I was so scared when I came here. I was so worried. but I got lucky. I got the nicest teacher in the whole school!" Her voice was loud enough that I could hear her from two feet away.
"Thank you," I told her. "I'm so glad you think so."
I think I'll like having this new student as much as she likes being here.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
It was fine. Mostly.
They read it through aloud for fluency. Twice. And then twice on their own. And then with their assigned parts. Then I tried to get them to read the first line as an announcement, like the instructions instructed.
"Speak up!" I told them, "You need to believe that you are the most important person in the room. You need to have presence. You need to speak as though everyone's attention should be focused on you."
I gave an example. I spoke as though I were the example. I was reminded that I need to stand and talk this way in my classroom so my students will pay more attention to me. I had them practice.
It did not go well.
They did not want attention. They did not want to act like they wanted attention. They did not want to make an announcement. They wanted to sit quietly and mumble through their words so no one would hear them.
But who did want attention? Who did want to speak as though she were the most important person in the room? Who did want to demonstrate to her fellow students that they could be just as amazing as she, even though a few minutes earlier she was compelled -- even though her tears -- to begin silent reading?
That's right. And so, because I thought maybe it would help my students in my small group, I relented.
She stood tall, proud, as though she were the most important person in the room and announced, "There is a sandwich in my desk!" The heads of everyone in the entire room turned to look at her (except for one student who was trying really, really, really hard to concentrate on her reading).
"AHA!" I said to my students in my small group, "Did you see that? Did you see how everyone in the class turned to look at Blobfish Lover because she acted like she was the most important person in the room?"
They all shook their heads no. Of course they hadn't, they'd all turned to look at her just like everyone in the class. I pointed this out to them, had her demonstrate again, and had my students in my group try once more.
They stood up this time. They tried to announce it this time. They spoke with slightly more conviction this time. They were better this time. And I guess progress is all I really can ask for.
Monday, March 13, 2017
I didn't know I could yell.
I didn't know I could be "mean".
Now I have anxiety.
The student didn't come today.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Alberto and TU were the first students I noticed saying this word.
"Knowledge!" One would say using at least one hand for emphasis, usually two. It was said after something I taught. Anything I taught.
The other students started to pick up on it too. And began using it, but not as a noun.
"Knowledge!" Said for anything important.
"Knowledge!" Said with with both hands when they understand something.
"Knowledge!" Said with a hit on the board because the problem they showed everyone was correct.
"Knowledge!" Because they are correct and have gained information.
"Knowledge!" Because I wrote it on the board for my morning message and they didn't read the rest of it, they just circled the word and pronounced it with extra emphasis when I had them read it aloud.
"Knowledge!" Because they get it and they'll follow my instructions.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
"Miss Maddox," she said in her normal voice which is just above a whisper and always excited, "I need to take pictures for the yearbook!"
My students began chittering excitedly to each other.
"Ah yes," I said, because I'd remembered that I had sent a grand total of zero pictures to the yearbook teacher despite having multiple reminders to do so. "Come take a picture of our class." She giggled and began snapping away.
After a couple minutes of picture taking and my class no longer paying attention to the math lesson, I noticed Ashaleighy looking a bit lost at everything.
"What do you need to take pictures of?" I asked her.
"I need pictures of everyone working," she responded.
Ah, good. Salvation. They'd have to work.
"Did you hear that!" I asked my class as half of them began to diligently look like they were decomposing fractions. "She needs pictures of you working. Start solving this problem on your whiteboard."
They immediately began writing on their whiteboards. Ashaleighy snapped some pictures around the classroom, and then the whiteboards began to be lifted up in the air. Normally when they finish a problem on their whiteboards they hold it up so I can check it off.
This time, however, they were holding them up so Ashaleighy could take pictures of words like blobfish, knowledge, I <3 school.
I rolled my eyes half-heartedly and grinned as another picture was shot. Finally she left and my students actually began working on their math.
She came in a couple more times, once to find Veronica who was also taking pictures around the school, and again to get a couple more pictures. She left quickly both times and returned to work on the yearbook.
Really, I would have let her take as many photos as she needed. She was so excited to join yearbook especially because forth graders aren't normally allowed to do that. And even though I haven't figured out exactly how to talk to her yet, at least I can see what things she's excited about.
Friday, March 10, 2017
I watched them at it for a day or two. Just to see if I was okay with it. My intern coach always tells me to look at different things happening in my classroom and ask if I am okay with it. If I'm not okay with it, something has to change.
And so, I watched them.
It was an ongoing game of tag. When the day ended and they all left the school, the game paused. When the next day began and they began arriving, the game began again.
Alberto, I think, is the one that started it, but it could have been one of the cousins, or any of my gentlemen.
I asked them the rules.
"You can't get tagged when you're sitting down!" they were all quick to reply. Ah, that explained why some began the morning in the wrong seats.
"And not if you're standing in line!" a couple other students added. Aaaand that explained why the last two people to line up took so long.
"Okay," I said. And I continued to watch.
I have mentioned, in an earlier post, that we are not allowed to run in my class. The reason for this is that one day, near the beginning of the school year, I was going to be that cool excited teacher who ran across her room to point out a word on the word wall. After my first running step, my right calf said, "NO!" and immediately stopped working. Which was a problem, because I was running and couldn't stop, even though my leg had.
Luckily, I only hit two desks and even made it back to my word wall.
Unluckily I limped for 2 weeks and had to take the (notoriously slow) elevator.
Running in the classroom, from that point forward, was banned.
As I watched my students over the next week, I began to notice that some of them would run to get to a chair. Run to get in line. Run back to their seat. Not do what I'd asked because the person that was it was the only other person not sitting.
Okay, I thought. I'm not okay with this. Something needs to change.
I thought about it a lot. Then I realized exactly what I needed to do.
The next morning I stood in front of my class to give them some announcements. Announcements about tag.
"I'm giving you new rules today," I told them. "Rule number 1: if you run in class, you are automatically it. Rule number 2: if I ask you to do something, you cannot get tagged." I looked around the room to see if they were listening and if they'd do it.
"Knowledge!" said Alberto. He held out his hand for emphasis. (They've been obsessed with the word for a while.) The other students agreed.
And I knew they weren't going to run anymore.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
She looked at me critically. "On a scale of 1-10? Probably a 9."
Nine was a whole lot higher than I thought she was going to say, or even behave, but I went with it.
"Alright, Blobfish Lover, if you can be a 10 today-- what does that look like?"
"Following the rules, listening, making my teacher happy," (class rules 3, 2, and 5), "following all the class rules."
"Okay, if you can be a 10, doing all of those things, I will let you read a page from your blobfish book at the end of class."
She looked at me incredulously. Then smiled her dimpled big-face grin. I haven't seen it in a while. "Really?"
"Yep. You have to be a 10."
"Okay," she said, clutching Pink is for Blobfish to her chest.
"You have to do your morning work," I reminded her and she practically ran (except we don't run in class) back to her seat.
"Miss Maddox, how am I doing now?" she asked me almost hourly. Mostly a 9, once an 8, sometimes a 10. Add that all up and it's one hundred times better than she has been.
When I went to pick them up from specialties I didn't think she'd make it. Her hair was undone and much messier than it had been when I dropped them off. All I got out of her was that it was BFF #2's fault.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
My little Mother Hen loves sparkles and glitter and unicorns and drawing pictures of me on her paper.
My little Mother Hen begs to read Treasure Island with KV, her reading partner.
KV doesn't want to read Treasure Island. KV would rather read Ninjago or video game books. Or goof off. Or potentially do some art.
My little Mother Hen will sit him down and open to the right page and make sure he reads withe her. She wants to finish and she knows that she is not allowed to read that book without him.
A few weeks ago, during small group time, I started partner reading. I paired up one reader with another a couple levels above them. It's to increase their fluency and reading abilities. Mother Hen was paired with KV.
And suddenly, he was on task during small group time.
She wanted to read all the books in the classroom and because she wanted it, she made him read with her.
I have a student who is my little Mother Hen. She bustles about the classroom. And with her excited and gentle way, she helps keep the other students on task.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
It's day 2 of the buckle up song and I can barely stand it.
Not all of my students have working headphones. Normally this isn't a problem, but starting Monday they've been singing the Prevention Dimensions song "Buckle Up". Most listen to it on their laptops with headphones. Those that don't have headphones, however, just play the song from the computer speakers and man it is annoying.
KV won't stop singing it.
Okay, he will stop singing it, but starts up again as soon as he's doing individual work.
"Buckle up. Buckle up. When I'm in the car I buckle up."
It's not loud enough to be disruptive. Just singing quietly to himself.
"Buckle up. Buckle up. When I'm in the car I buckle up."
This from the boy who would willingly talk for hours about World War I and World War 2. Who creates tanks from my math blocks that I let them play with during indoor recess. Who wrote an opinion essay on why Fallout 4 is the best. Who can only sit still for one thing: the arts.
"Buckle up. Buckle up. When I'm in the car I buckle up."
He actually has a good voice and I don't want to discourage the message of the song by telling him not to sing it. Besides, he loves the music. Should I discourage that passion?
"Buckle up. Buckle up."
I didn't realize at the beginning of the year that he likes the arts. In fact, I only found out by accident. I was meeting with my intern coach and noticed a beautiful drawing of an apple on her desk. It had my name on it: Miss Maddox, 4th grade. It had KV's name next to it. I stared at it in confusion. Had KV done that? It turns out, he had. The art teacher handed out the best apples to the administration so they could display them in their offices.
I expressed interest in the picture and my intern coach gave it to me. "I can get another from the art teacher," she told me. "You should have this one."
Then I began to watch him when anything happened to do with the arts.
Before Christmas some of the fifth and sixth graders put on a concert. Band, orchestra, and choir. From the moment the first song began, he was riveted. It was the longest I'd ever seen him sit still. Once or twice, in between musical numbers, he glanced over at me to see if I was getting after him for being disruptive.
I wasn't. I smiled, gave him a thumbs up, and pointed up to the stage.
"When I get in the car when I go somewhere," something buckle something, something buckle up.
After Christmas other fifth and sixth graders put on "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Again, he watched with rapture, hanging onto every word, shushing those around him.
Today we had a field trip to watch the Repertory Dance Company. The dances were amazing. I could barely tear my eyes from the stage to look at KV to confirm, or perhaps just to see how much he liked it. He studied the dances, inhaling the performance, and not moving a muscle when his neighbor, Blobfish Lover, began laughing and copying something happening on stage.
Tomorrow morning we'll sing the song again. He'll love it. He'll sing it periodically through the day. One day we won't be singing "Buckle up". We'll have moved on to another song.
Until then, I'll just have to suffer through a few more days of "Buckle up."
Monday, March 6, 2017
My students do hard things. Near the beginning of the year I told them that they only put students in my class who could do hard things. It helps that above one of the whiteboards are the words "I can do hard things". The teacher who had my classroom last year painted them up there.
When my students say that something is hard I will point to the words on my wall and ask them what it says. They have to do whatever it is they are doing anyway. It's okay if it's hard and it probably will be hard, but they do hard things.
One of my students has been acting out a lot more than usual the last few weeks. I showed this student my magic mirror. It helped for a day. I gave this student a bit more attention. They sought more negative attention. I tried ignoring this student's negative behaviors. The other students thought it was funny.
Today, as my students were working on their opinion essay, this student, always the fast finisher, came up to me saying that their essay was ready to be typed up. I looked at the essay, gave positive feedback and suggested some edits. To which edits, the student began arguing with me about the quality of the essay and how I don't do this with other students.
Ah. I thought. This student needs to see my magic mirror.
The student refused to look into the mirror.
That's odd, I thought.
Finally it was recess. We went outside and I continued to talk to this student. It was finally brought up that this student's parents are probably going to get a divorce.
"They weren't even going to get married but my mom got pregnant with me and then they had to." This student cried while saying the words.
"Recite our poem," I told this student. And with a bit more prodding, and a claim that nobody even knows what the poem is about because it's just about trees, she began.
"The tree that never had to fight for sun and sky and air and light, but stood out in the open plain and always got it's share of rain, never became a forest king, but lived and died a scrubby thing." Good Timber by Douglas Malloch.
Then she recited the second stanza, "The man who never had to toil to gain and farm his patch of soil who never had to win his share of sun and sky and light and air never became a manly man but lived and died as he began." She has the whole thing memorized. She passed it off weeks ago.
We talked about those two stanzas, how man means person, how tree means her, how fighting means figuring out how to be kind and knowing that things are going to be okay, but right now they are going to be hard.
I wondered why it was so hard for this student to pay attention, to be obedient, to sit still. I wondered why the magic mirror wasn't working like it's supposed to be working. I wondered how I could help this student be the better behaved child they were two months ago.
Now I know. This student needs to know she is loved.
My students do hard things. Near the beginning of the year I told them that they only put students in my class who could do hard things. It helps that above one of the whiteboards are the words "I can do hard things". The teacher who had my classroom last year painted them up there.
When my students say that something is hard I will point to the words on my wall and ask them what it says. They have the do whatever it is they are doing anyway. It's okay if it's hard and it probably will be hard, but they do hard things.
Sunday, March 5, 2017
Don't run in the class? That's my bad. My leg healed after two weeks (mostly). It's fine.
Don't throw things in class? Also my bad. The projector is fine. Didn't even get a dent. The dead marker was probably hurt more than the projector ever was.
Sometimes my students will do things like throw something or run across the classroom and I'll have to make them stop, but if I try to do the same thing, my students are quick to remind me that if I run, my leg will break. (It wasn't broken. They just thought it was.) If I throw something, it will definitely hit the projector.
The other day I had a reminder that sometimes when they break the rules, it's not because they meant to. And guess what? It was when I accidentally broke a rule (again).
What happened was that my phone went off while I was doing my read aloud ("A Year Down Yonder"). My students know that calling or texting me while I am teaching is very rude. Some of them even reprimanded my phone for me.
I reached into my back pocket to pull it out to turn the sound down and as I pulled it in front of me, immediately lost hold of my phone. It bounced on my hand as I tried to reestablish my grip and went flying a few feet.
I will not say what it hit. But there were lots of apologies on my part. And a bit of reflection.
My students are 9 and 10. They don't always do things on purpose. And I need to remember that more.
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Sometimes I don't realize the unintended consequence of this. Blobfish Lover, for example put all her markers in her braid one day and I didn't realize that she was doing this because of me until long after I'd told her to take them out. (I think my principal was visiting that day. Paying attention to a lot of things was hard.)
Another student shoved all her colored pencils through her headband for crazy hair day. (It was one of those crocheted headbands with lots of natural holes. It was fine.)
When we switched for science one of the boys in the other class kept putting a pencil on his head. His hair is barely long enough to comb let enough hold a pencil. Somehow he managed to balance it between his short hairs and head and walked slowly so that it wouldn't fall out.
"Isaiah, what are you doing?" I asked him when he came up to the front of the room to do something. "Take that off of your head."
"Awww. I was trying to be like you."
Oh. Of course he was. I smiled. Then I laughed. I guess I shouldn't laugh when students say and do things like that. I did anyway.
Someone once told me that if I ever asked my students to do an impression of me, that they'd be able to do it really, really well, glaring flaws and all. It makes me wonder what things I need to do better or which things they are picking up on that I really need to do differently.
Friday, March 3, 2017
Something mumbled in response that I can't hear because my ears have been plugged up for two weeks. He immediately goes back to reading to his buddy.
We're in kindergarten today. We always are on Fridays. For 20 minutes my students read a book to a kindergartner. Sometimes two kindergartners. (I only have 19 students and 2 are always lunch working. There are 22 kindergartners when they all show up. You do the math.)
"I'm sorry, Alberto. What?"
He looks up brightly, "What, Miss Maddox?"
I was also talking to the student teacher. I had to end my conversation in order to concentrate enough on him that I can hear him, even with my plugged up ears. I'll probably end up reading his lips.
"What did you just say?"
He concentrates for a moment, "Oh. HI!"
Mentally I facepalm. That's what he wanted to say?
"Hello, Alberto. Keep reading."
He smiles with his whole face and turns back to the kindergartner beside him to keep reading. He has a beautiful smile and uses it often. He is a student I can always count on to be cheerful.
Mentally I'm shaking my head, rolling my eyes, and almost laughing. Apparently, children will interrupt what they are doing (which is important) just to tell you, "Hi," because they've noticed that you are sitting near them and they want you to acknowledge their presence.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Wednesday, March 1, 2017