Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Good News

The good news is that none of my students got injured today.

More good news: the teacher who was displaced is being "housed" at my school (at least until November), and will come into my classroom to support my challenging student, one-on-one. Today, Teacher came in after lunch. Student had chosen Charlotte's Web for his self-selected reading book, and Teacher suggested they read outside on the park benches under the wisteria. Doesn't that sound so much better than yesterday?

Good news #3: My end-of-day class meeting has been going very well.

When I was in teacher-school, no one told me about class meetings. Now, in my eleventh year of teaching, I am trying it out for the first time. I've had meetings before, but not like this. This is daily, and it takes time out of instruction, but good things are coming out of it.

Here's what I've been doing... Thirty minutes before dismissal, I pass out homework, and students clean up and move their chairs into a big circle. (We don't move the desks; we just work around them.) Twenty minutes before dismissal, we all sit in the circle and I hold a teddy bear (our "talking object" - something I thought was absurd, but now believe is absolutely necessary for a large group of nine-year-olds) while going over the incident reports in the class meeting folder. I don't name names. I just talk about situations. Then I open up the discussion to the class. I tell them it's time to get anything off their chest that they need to say, and that I want them to leave school feeling like it was a good day. I remind them that they can share something they really liked, they can say thank you to someone, or they can apologize to someone if they feel they need to.

Something happened yesterday. One of my students got the bear and said to my challenging student that he had hoped for an apology for something that had happened at recess. My challenging student had apologized for a different incident, but said that he didn't want to apologize to this particular child. I said that was fine; I want their apologies to be genuine. I also said I was proud of the boy who had expressed his disappointment because sharing his feelings was brave.

So, today, some of my students just shared their feelings. "I felt sad when..." "I felt angry when..." The sadness and anger was because - at recess - some of my students were sitting in the shade on the grass, and Group 1 had made a nest of leaves and Group 2 had made an ant house out of sticks, and both got destroyed. After the Nest students expressed their feelings, one student said that the first graders who had destroyed the nest weren't there, so there was no one to offer the Nest students an apology. This gave me the opportunity to teach students that we can empathize with each other and say, "I'm sorry that you feel sad."

I am so excited about this.

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