Saturday, March 23, 2013

Students Make Me Laugh, Not Cry

The joke with my students is that I have no heart. Yes, of course I literally do, but let me explain how this joke began. I hate to cry, no really I abhor crying. It makes me feel weak and vulnerable, two things I dislike also. Since I teach emotional young teens, this seems unreal to them. Many of the girls that I teach discus how they cried at a movie or commercial (you know the one's with the animals and sad music asking you to donate money), and when they turn to me asking if I cry at those times I state a simple no. This is incredulous to them and as they continue to probe me I explain that I really dislike crying and think if you cry a lot you look silly. Many of my students think this statement is silly and their goal is to see me cry. What a goal, huh?! Anyways, I now have students telling me every sad story they can think of- everything to a death with a family member or pet, to them being hurt in some way. I know am known as the teacher with a stone heart, because I have not cried. I know I say this jokingly, but I know I have heart. I care deeply for my students and they know this (crying aside). I can joke with them, push them in their learning, and discuss their thoughts with mine during lectures. I have a heart because I want each of them to succeed and believe they can, even if they do not share this belief. Maybe, someday I will cry when all of my class does their work on time and at the best of their ability!

My quote of the week from a student occurred when I was teaching the weekly Greek and Latin roots. We were discussing/learning the root hypo (which means under). A student stated "Is under a word?- How is understood with under- how are you under something that stood in your learning?" I stood their looking at her questioningly, trying to digest and truly figure out what she was saying. The rest of the students all paused and looked at her in the same manner. It finally clicked to what she was saying and what she was trying to do- break down the word using her current knowledge of the word. I chuckled and began my description to her about what we can do with the word and different meanings of words. I ended with "New knowledge is ahead of you- old knowledge is under you, solidified in your brain." This seemed to make sense to her and we all had a good chuckle thanks to this students question.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reading Aloud

We use a program called Plugged-In by Janet Allen to support our teaching of reading. In this the books that are read as a whole group are read generally by a person on a CD. Immediately when I read/heard that a CD was reading to a group I felt like crying. I throughly enjoy reading to my students, with infliction, emotion, and pauses to allow us to discuss questions, thoughts and insights of the text. I asked at a training for this program if a teacher was allowed to read out-loud to students, and of course the answer was yes, with a but. The but was, your voice will be sore and it can be exhausting to do this every day for multiple periods. I just shook my head a bit and said okay. I do not find this exhausting  and I am not trying to say that I am a superwomen by any means. I think it is imperative that my students hear me reading and see what I do when I encounter words I am unsure of or that I love; that I question out loud when I am reading; that I get excited or upset when something happens to a character- basically that I love reading!

This thinking leads me to an experience that recently happened in my classroom regarding reading. I was out at a conference for a day and the substitute was asked to read aloud to the students the whole-class novel. When I returned to one of my classes the next day many students stated "I am so glad that you are back to read to us!" I asked why and the students responded with "The substitute did not read well and it was boring." Now, I questioned why this was the case as we were in a critical part of the text. The students stated that the substitute did not read with any voice, but just a monotone dribble and did not pause to interact with the text and students. Inside I was jumping up and down, finally feeling as though I had reached my students with reading. The students understood how a text should be read and when it was not interacted with, loved, and discussed in any way the love of reading can be lost. I want to thank my substitute for showing my students the difference in a passion of reading!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

PBIS with Winter Carnival

Last week a co-worker, the Spirit Committee (of students) and myself implemented Winter Carnival, for the first time in ten years at our middle school. I had no clue what I was doing, as I had never run this before. The co-worker, who supported with this event, had only seen this run, but again had never run an event like this before. Thus, you had two people with a small group of students trying to do something in which they had no clue what or how to do. Overall, the week went well as many students were excited with the events and had fun (which was my main objective!). I had a small point system given to each winning group (which was done by homerooms), just to throw in some type of competition. The issue is not with the students being competitive, but with the adults. I did not realize we had so many competitive (I mean really competitive) adults working in our building! It was great to see this passion and have them involved with the events all week. I love to compete, but my goal is as always for the students is to have fun and to bond as a group. Competition is good, but please remember that students enjoying themselves is our goal.

We are meeting next week to discuss what changes we would like for next year and what went well.

If anyone has any suggestions about what can be done for a Winter Carnival (even though you do not know what we did this year) or even for a Summer Festival (for the end of the year) please let me know!