Sunday, May 10, 2009

April Reflections and What Happened to W2C2?

I am a reflective person.... about my personal life and especially, my professional life. So, I have been looking back lately and thinking about this year. I won't bore you with the personal life, but I have come to some great knowledge in my professional life.

I have noticed a change in some of my "tough to reach" students. Mostly talking elementary students at this time.  There have been several kids who have driven me crazy for YEARS. They have been sent to the principal, kept in for recess, lectured, scolded, and -- rather infrequently -- talked to with a raised voice. Yep, I admit it, sometimes I raise my voice (though with older kids I have always known it is the very quietest voice that gets their attention -- more on that another day).

This year, a few of the tough kids have made complete changes... Well, that is not totally true. The one who did the changing was me at first....then them.  It started with the addition of the Promethean board. Wait, before all the whiteboard bashers quit reading, I need to explain. One of the amazing things I received with the whiteboard was the Activslate, which allows me to sit WITH the kids while I am instructing and interacting with the class. And, as my friend Anna from Promethean can attest, I plop myself right between the naughtiest kids when I teach with that board.  For about three kids, there was a complete change. Why? Because they had my attention and I was among them, not the 'authority' in the front of the room. We could have little QUIET corrections without stopping the entire class. So, three naughty kids down, a dozen to go.

In other classes, I made one significant change....after a particularly horrific experience with the 'leadership' of the school, I started notifying parents when there was an issue in class. I explained I would be doing that in the beginning of a few classes (check off two more naughty kids from my problem list).  Then, I followed through on the threat (check off a few more).  A few parents are not parenting....yeah, we knew that....But the inconvenience of having to respond to the teacher was enough to light a fire under a few.  Other people who do expend the energy to be a parent were supportive and worked with their child at home to create change (don't you love it when the parental connection with the teacher works for good instead of evil)

OK, so I am now living the ideal teacher life, right?? Well, no, perhaps you miscounted, I have a few hold outs. So, what changed those couple of kids? Well, for most of them, it was again a change in me. I summoned up everything I know about kids and tried to treat them as if we had an empty slate. I made no reference to the dozens of discipline referrals (which obviously weren't making any sort of change) and started talking about the present and what sort of student I could be seeing. I worked at keeping an even temper (hard for me) and tried to LIKE them and SHOW THEM that I liked them.  It's harder than it seems.  But, you know, it worked for some of the remainders. I still have a few that can push all the wrong buttons in me, but that number is greatly reduced this year.  

So, what happened to my mantra from a few blog posts ago...  We Will Create Change?  W2C2?  Well, you just got done reading my efforts to create change. I have to change ME first and then I shall work on the rest of the world. So, once again I ask, Who's with me??  W2C2


loonyhiker said...

I'm so glad things have gotten better with your students. I am a true believer about parent contact and the impact. I have also learned that I can't control other people's behavior, only my own so when I change my behavior (including how I react to other people's behavior), it can create change. Great post!

Michael Summers said...

I truly appreciate your honesty and candor. I think we too often forget that teachers are human beings; that you will have good days and bad days, that you will have children that you just intuitively and viscerally relate to and others that just grate. No, I don't believe that yelling at children is the answer (far too many "at risk" children see too much of that, or see only that) and corporal punishment, in my mind, is simply out of the question. Teachers should, first and foremost, model the behavior they want their children to exhibit.

That said, as humans we are fallible. We make mistakes. But where I applaud you Terry is your willingness to look inward, to learn and to change. I've often said that the best teachers in the 21st century will be the best learners and those most willing to learn.

So bravo.

As for W2C2 continue to lay out your vision. I'm listening, watching, waiting....