Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Bit of Randomness

Warning: this post is random. I have some thoughts that don't necessarily go together, but also don't warrant separate posts. :)

First off, I wanted to post an update about our Knowledgable Knight activity. I created this activity a few weeks ago but we finally had the opportunity to do it last week. It was a hit! We were learning about silent letters, so to make things interesting, we pretended that the words had escaped from the Kingdom of Knowledge and had to be captured. I cut up word cards- some with words that contained silent letters, some without- and hid them under Easter grass. The Easter grass served as our 'forest' and the kids had to dig the words out and bring them back to the Knowledgeable Knight. It's amazing what a little Easter grass can do! This activity took a lot to prepare, but it was worth it seeing the kids' faces. Even my struggling readers were really focusing to recognize those silent letters! I think I may be pulling out the ol' Easter grass more often!

In other news, my blurt alert cards are working well. I decided that if a student collects more than three blurt alert cards in one day, they earn a lunch detention. My main target student has only earned one lunch detention once so far- so they are working. I love the visual reminder they give. Let's hope they keep working their magic!

Moving on....

This week we took mock tests to help prepare the kiddos for our state assessment in a few weeks. If you are in a testing grade level, you know how incredibly long and boring these days are- desks in rows and columns, no talking, no conference, lunch with the kids... blah. My kiddos did pretty well on the test- I was quite impressed! Some could have done better, but overall I was very pleased.

I say all of that to say this... today while we were taking a restroom break- which I hate doing with a burning passion and we only do on testing days like this- we were in the first grade hallway to sidestep the traffic jam in our third grade hall. In between holding my breath because the overwhelming stench of urine and walking on my tiptoes to avoid getting mysterious goo on my shoes, I witnessed something pretty incredible.

First of all, let me tell you about this one student of mine that has been very near and dear to my heart this year- I'll call him Ted. Ted came to me a few weeks into the school year significantly behind. He struggles in reading and struggles greatly in math. He is thoughtful, which takes time, and although others will produce an answer much quicker, when he finally pieces his thoughts together, he can come up with something pretty profound. I love this kid to pieces.

Anywho, while we were in the hallway, he asked me if he could go to his sister's classroom because she was in trouble and the teacher had asked him to come and speak to her about her behavior. This had never happened before, so I was a little hesitant. After asking a few questions, I let him go. He knocked on the door very politely, stuck his head in, and waited for his sister to come out. When she did, I saw the most beautiful sight.

Ted looked down at his sister with the most serious, yet still gentle, look and said, "What are you doin' in there?" The sister was obviously ashamed and was avoiding eye contact. He went on to explain to her, "You know you are here to learn not to play. You know you're probably goin' to get a whoopin' tonight.' He went on to talk to her and get her back on the right track- raised eyebrows and all. He was never abrasive, just steady and firm. I stood in awe. To see this kid take such an assertive role with his little sister, to first of all accept the larger responsibility of going to talk to her in the first place when he could have easily avoided it, made me so proud.

 I am again reminded of how important it is to see my students as people and to recognize those hidden leadership qualities in them. On a day when it would have been so easy for me to ignore this interaction, to look the other way and shush the others in line for the restroom- I am reminded of my larger purpose to not only be a role model, but develop role models.

Having this experience with Ted today and my experience with my negotiator last week makes my heart swell and renews my passion for my job. Yes, it is important to prepare my students to be successful for tests, but it is so much more important for me to develop them into honorable people and help them be the best they can be.  I owe a certain first grade teacher a HUGE thank you for giving Ted the opportunity to shine and I am so thankful I was there to witness it.

In this stressful time of year, I hope that those of you who experience the same stressors I face will challenge yourselves to remember your larger purpose as a teacher- to seek out qualities in your students that you may have never sought out before. Give your students an opportunity to take on a challenge you might not have presented them with in the past. I know I will be seeing Ted in a very different light from now on, and I'm excited to see what other qualities I may have overlooked in my other students.

Happy Wednesday! By the way, it's almost spring break!! :) Two. More. Days!

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