Making Progress.

Another week has passed, and more experience with these kids has given me more perspective. We’re making progress.

We’ve still got a bit of a chatting problem, but it could be worse. I decided to make my pom pom jar a weekly incentive, so if they can fill up the jar by Friday morning, they get free time that afternoon. However, if their work isn’t completed or if they don’t fill up the jar, they don’t get that Fun Friday free time incentive. I think it will work, and I’m hoping with last week’s implementation of it they’ll get the picture. Only about half of my class got that free time on Friday, so I’m really hoping the other half will kick it into high gear so that they can participate, too.

Student behavior is such a fascinating aspect to this job. It’s also plays a huge role in effectively managing your classroom. To all you pre-service teachers out there, nothing you learn in college will help you with this.

Nothing.

I paid attention in all of my classes and did most of the readings (just being honest here, I didn’t do every single one) and had experience in three different schools and four elementary grade levels. I was in schools with great diversity and very little diversity. I witnessed the implementation of PBIS programs. I asked multiple teacher friends about their management styles and what worked for them. Despite all of this, there is absolutely nothing like the actual experience of handling a child who has tantrums on a regular basis or who likes to disrupt class for fun or who cries over any and everything simply for attention.

The whole teaching profession is a learning experience. I learn while I’m teaching and that’s why I reflect. I probably reflect too much, but then again I don’t really know if that’s possible when you’re a teacher.

I came to the Durham Public Library today to get some books for science next week and to just get a little change of scenery for planning purposes. Needless to say it’s been highly effective.

I’ve gotten a lot of work done here this afternoon, from sketching out this week’s math and science plans to filling out my anecdotal behavior journal. Reliving those crazy experiences from last week was quite the experience — I had a child who literally BIT A SWING at recess because she was mad at it.

What?

It gets difficult sometimes looking back on those anecdotal notes — how the heck am I supposed to deal with this behavior? What am I supposed to do if I see a child who is flying red flags for being autistic? There’s so much paperwork that I have to do to deal with these situations, and I can only hope that all the paperwork actually gets these kids the help that they need.

Even though filling out the behavior journal caused me a bit of a headache, I got to stop and think about how many wonderful things happened this week.

I started sending positive behavior notes home with students last week. I sent one home with one of my little boys and he came back to school the next day and told me that the note made his parents so happy, that he got to go to the Dollar Tree with his grandpa.

SO CUTE.

This same child was kind of upset on Friday at the end of the day — he was walking around with his hood on, just kind of moping around the class while everyone was packing up. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that he thought he had a good day, but he was sad that I was so impressed with another group of students from a different class who did science with us that day. I reminded him that just because I tell other kids they do well doesn’t mean that he doesn’t do well, too! I sent another positive note home with him (because it was so obvious how much it changed his behavior earlier that week) and stopped him in the hallway before he left for his bus. I told him how proud I am of him and how he is doing such a great job with everything — I mean, this kid is a rounding EXPERT, y’all — and that I showed his writing journal to some other teachers because I thought his writing was so awesome. The whole time I was saying this to him, this silent smile came on his face.

This child beamed.

He gave me a big hug when he was leaving and we pinky promised that we would have an even better week next week, if that was even possible.

This student also made me a picture during free time — it was a picture of the two of us, and it said “My favorite teacher Miss Stewart.”

SO CUTE. AGAIN.

I really love them. For every challenge that’s presented, it makes me love them more. These kids don’t know it, but they’re making me a better teacher by the day.

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