Thursday, August 15, 2013
All They Need
There are so many styles that work for different people and classrooms. I wouldn't say that one specific system works for everyone. Over the years, my school district has gone from classroom based to school-wide systems so there is continuality in Cultural Arts, Lunch, Buses, etc... My current school utilizes several systems. We are a PBIS school with a clip chart and punch tickets for prizes from a treasure box. This is great for those students who know what to do but may need a visual reminder and those little moments of praise for getting it right. We are also a Kids at Hope school. The students recite an affirmation each day and learn about teachers and adults in all parts of their lives that they can not only use as a role model but establish emotional connections with. We recently became an IB PYP candidate school. PYP has its own version of character education which we have merged our older systems with. PYP talks about the learner profile attributes and attitudes. These are great for mini-lessons to connect not only to classroom incidents but to literature. It asks that every different community within the school collaboratively establish their own essential agreement (class rules). The cafeteria had one, each intervention group had one, etc... They all involve the students deciding on what that environment requires from them. In Kindergarten, our Social Studies curriculum uses the Second Step program which has direct lessons on feelings and dealing with our own feelings like frustration and anger. All the kindergarten and pre-kindergarten staff recently was trained in The Center for Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) program in which we learned about teaching/modeling for the students a toolbox of ways to deal with emotions and problems they encounter. This training was great for talking about how each learner needs different things (and for some it is space or a quiet place and for others tangible rewards).
What does all this alphabet soup and vocabulary mean to the daily lives of the learners in my class? It means I care. It means I model strategies. It means I sit them down at the end of a "rough" day and ask one on one "what do you think went well today?" The best classroom management is loving your students even harder when they struggle. It is telling them in the little ways and sometimes straight out ...I care about you. I know you are a good person. I know you can succeed. It is okay to make mistakes. It is okay to feel angry, frustrated and sad. There are better ways to deal with those feelings. We are a community. You have friends. You are worthwhile.