Yay for the linky party for Part III of The End of Molasses Classes! I truly enjoy reading every one's thoughts about the book, I keep checking back to see who else has linked up! Part III is entitled: Creating the Right Climate and Culture.
I am super envious of all the bloggers out there who can cover their points succinctly. I have tried, but even my shortest posts seem long! So, please bear with me if I ramble a bit, I get super excited when talking about this book! I will again limit myself to 3 Principles, although I could write a whole post about any principle from Part III since they all spoke to me!
First up is Principle 65: "Encourage children to cheer for one another." This is actually one of our 8 Expectations and we say it every day during morning assembly: "Expectation #4 "We will cheer each other to success." Even when we are playing competitive games where I have the students in teams, we don't allow any booing or heckling, and we always celebrate regardless of who gets the answer right. I know that my kiddos take this to heart, because of an incident that happened last year. One of my kinders was extremely low academically. She was the sweetest little girl, but had not been exposed to very much in life before she came to our classroom. She also had some developmental delays (I suspected Fetal Alcohol Syndrome), but she moved before testing could be done. The bottom line was, she was always the last one to complete any thing and she frequently needed extra help and guidance. One day, I asked one of my higher level girls (I'll call her Mary) to help this sweetie (I'll call her Susie) with a patterning activity. By this point in the year 99% of my kinders had patterns down pat. I listened closely and tried to keep an unobtrusive eye on the pair, ready to step in if Mary showed any frustration with Susie for not knowing the answers. Instead, I listened with delight as Mary coached her, saying "Okay, we're doing an AB pattern, red, green, red, green, red...now what comes next?" Susie answered "Red!" and Mary said "Nooo...." in an encouraging tone. "Green?" asked Susie. "Yes! You did it! Good job!" Mary replied. They spent the next 10 minutes doing the whole activity together, with Mary coaching and cheering Susie to success. The best part was, Mary had no clue I was listening, and didn't even realize how special her behavior was! It was just what she knew to do, because of our Expectations! I firmly believe that children can be awesome supporters of one another, we just need to teach them how to do it and let them know our expectations until it becomes second nature to them.
Principle 45:"Do not use cell phones or computers while the students are in the room, unless the device is part of the lesson being taught." This is one of my biggest pet peeves! I absolutely can't stand it when I go into another classroom and the teacher is checking messages or talking on the phone and then gets upset when the kiddos aren't doing what they should. I firmly believe that we are getting paid to teach, and while we are with students our focus needs to be on them, not texting. Our district policy is not to have cell phones turned on during class time, but unfortunately it is not strictly enforced. I can tell you that I can see a clear difference when I walk into a classroom where a cell phone is in regular use during the day, and one that never sees a cell phone. The same goes for checking emails etc on the computer. The other day, during our read to self, the whole class was quiet and reading. I had to email our counselor about an issue with a student and thought I could just hop on the computer really quickly and get it out of the way so I didn't have to worry about doing it after work. Within about 45 seconds of me getting on the computer, the students started to lose their focus. They could tell I wasn't paying full attention to them any more, and by the time I sent the email our read to self time was completely shot. I realized that I had just thrown our afternoon off track when I could have simply waited until the end of the day to send that email. Trust me, it is not worth the behavioral problems that are sure to follow if you use your computer/cell phone during the day.
Principle # 40: Dress the part; attire matters! This was a hard one for me! Since I teach primary, we get messy, a lot! My former principal did not really have a dress code, aside from "no holes" so the teachers wore jeans and t shirts or sweatshirts every day. It was great! I was comfortable, I didn't care if I got messy, and getting dressed was a snap in the morning! This year, our new principal said "Dress to impress." Jeans and school t shirts are only allowed on Fridays. Man, I hated that! I was bitter as I went out to buy dress pants and shirts. However, I now find that I enjoy getting dressed in the morning. I like looking nice! And, since I feel good about myself, it starts my day off on a good note! Also, when I talk to parents - even just in the hallways before school - I feel more confident and more authoritative. I look
That's it, thank you so much if you read this far! Be sure to head over to the party at TBA to see which Principles other bloggers are talking about!