Friday, December 14, 2012

Small Moments are Key

This week has been interesting. Good moments included my lil first grade buddy Tatyana sitting and chatting with me one morning and even asking what I liked to do when I wasn't at school. Pretty cool for a youngster to ask this of an adult. Made me feel like I wasn't just the 'computer teacher' as many students refer to me, but a person as well. The week also felt successful when I was able to get a resistive 8th grade girl into my room at the end of the day for the math intervention time. Not only did I get her in the room (the prior two days she wouldn't come downstairs with the group and was found wandering somewhere in the school) but she worked and asked questions. The same girl when I saw her yesterday morning arriving late, pulled me aside and asked if I'd walk with her to class because she didn't want to walk to the room alone. Small moments are key. I've been working on the setting of a story with 1st/2nd graders. The picture above is one that made me smile. It was a 2nd grade boy who really did a nice job illustrating the setting from the story we heard. Again a fantastic small moment.

The week did not pass without the usual 8th grade drama and challenges. Our fearless AP finally took some time to try to recover from being really ill. Good for him but we all certainly have missed him! The week marked the return of a very 'spirited' 8th grader who spent time at PACE Program. It is amazing how one single student can dramatically change the vibe and environment. Teachers were talking last Friday at the end of the day that the vibe felt pretty good. We felt like we were moving a bit forward and making some progress. Well, that conversation did a complete 180 by Tuesday. This one student had the boys who were starting to be manageable acting up. This one student had the girls falling all over themselves and each other clamoring for his attention. I get a piece of why the girls were acting the way they were- he's the 'bad' boy. This one student... 

On Thursdays, the 7th/8th graders get some extra social time from 3:30-4:00. We haven't had success in trying to provide this to them partially because of their behaviors during this time. Yesterday was... well interesting to say the least. The art teacher and I are the only teachers in the basement and we had the pleasure of hosting the two 8th grade classes for 'fun' time. It started poorly with trying to get them down two flights of stairs. I have to admit most came down just fine. But this one student- was the last one and of course had to be escorted so he'd actually make it into my room. Students were in our rooms for all of 5 minutes before they started to creep into the hallway. So here I was trying to manage students in the room who were not interested in their usual coolmathgames but rather wanted to use the big space in my room to spar, wander around and generally annoy each other. I ended up standing in the door way with this one student and two other boys. I have to say I was sweating and quite nervous. One was being pretty humorous for a short bit trying to pass some really old headphones I have off as being "the new Beats by Drake". He did make me smile but it was short lived as he moved on to sitting at my chair, nosing around on my laptop and even picking up my scarf and putting it on. Again I was nervous and sweating. I could continue the happenings but... you get the idea. I chatted a bit with my AP after school about the event and said I'd like to problem solve. He sure but asked what problem are we trying to solve? Good question! I realized the Thursday fun time is problematic because the adults are trying to say it is the students extra social/reward/fun time but we are dictating it. We were forcing them to go outside for an extra recess for awhile. Then we switched and are now forcing them to move with their homeroom classes to the specials teachers rooms on a rotational schedule. Time to rethink once again. Rethinking is good. Changing things that aren't working is good. Being flexible is good. 

Start positive. End positive.

On a good note, I was able to get several grades doing a word cloud using Tagxedo. I started by showing them MLK's I have a Dream speech in text and then in a word cloud. It felt successful as they created their own word clouds about themselves. Even this one student managed to get a girl nearby to type the words he wanted to use, print it and go pick it up for him. I enjoyed hearing the excitement from one 6th grader that I'd hung his up.  Small moments are key.

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