It’s been 2 weeks since I last updated.
2 weeks with my
I’ve already realized things I could have done better. But I also realize things that I kick ass at and want to continue stressing throughout the year:
1) First week of school – I did not touch the curriculum. No textbooks. No content. Nothing. As a teacher, I know that sounds scary. We have such a limited amount of time with these students. Every minute counts. But a minute with a student will not be effective if they don’t know who you are, if that initial rapport has not been established. Developing a classroom culture is key to success throughout the year.
2) Emphasizing Character, not Performance - So many of these students have been taught that the grade and the standards are what we aim for. That grades determine success. And our education system, unfortunately, rewards those that meet those standards. What about the student that works their ass off every single day, but isn’t rewarded with the grade? Why are students not praised for being determined, hard-working, considerate, creative…unless they can give you the product you’re looking for? I understand that it’s me against the system. I understand that I can’t completely eliminate standardized testing and core standards. But I will not be the teacher that creates a classroom of “test takers.” I will not mention the test. I will, instead, focus on the qualities and characteristics that will help them be successful in LIFE.
I introduced my students to John Wooden and his Pyramid of Success. I spent the entire period sharing with them the qualities that lead a person to success. John Wooden never spoke of winning or losing. He would pull the players in for a halftime speech and stress the word “Cooperation” or “Enthusiasm,” but never said, “This is how you win the game.”
Developing character leads to championship. Reaching for championship, without understanding these key components, may be successful at first. But John Wooden knew how to win championships, year after year. And that’s what I want to instill in my students. That it’s not a short-term goal we’re looking at. We’re not just looking at this one project, this one test, this one YEAR. What makes us good people? What makes us good thinkers? What makes us valuable to society as a whole?
I wanted to assess whether my students knew what some of the words on the pyramid meant. Poster and post-it time!
“Friendship” seemed to be something they could understand (for the most part – it was still difficult for them to put it in words and be able to explain it). But when it came to “poise” or “competitive greatness,” the students struggled to make meaning of it. It was good for me to get a sense of what they knew at the beginning of the year. I’m interested to see how this activity plays out in June.
3) Take risks. Be wrong. FAIL. - We live in a society that has an obsession with the culture of one right answer. That there is one answer and no room for debate. That you are right or wrong. Black or white. No gray area. That the answer is either A, B, C, or D. It can’t be a little bit of all. It can’t be none. You can’t question it. Because there’s a wrong answer and our students fear getting the wrong answer. I can’t even begin to tell you how much hesitation I saw when I set forth an idea to my students and asked them to share their thoughts through writing. I wanted them to interpret things from their perspective. I wanted to know what they thought of a particular cartoon. And about 80% of the students did not begin writing. They looked at me for more guidance. They looked at me because they thought that I had the “correct answer” in my mind and they wanted to reach inside, take the idea, and begin writing around that. That scares me. That we are training these students to search for what’s right instead of think for themselves. I want my students to fail. Because failing is the best form of instruction. I want my students to fail. Because I know that we, as people, become stronger as we develop and analyze our actions. I want my students to fail because we learn from our mistakes. We pick ourselves up, try it again, utilizing new techniques and new tactics. I want my students to fail because failing leads to success.
I hope that I can continue writing. It’s hard to be so consistent when there’s so much going on. But being able to write out my reflections each day and hearing ideas and suggestions from everyone — they are all so important to my professional development. For now, I need to disconnect myself. I’ve been so wrapped up in work that I haven’t had time for my personal and social development.
Three-day weekend – and I’m going to try to avoid work the entire day. It can wait until tomorrow when I’m refreshed and rejuvenated.
Happy Labor Day to all
How was your first week of school?
What activities/icebreakers/classroom culture development tools did you use with your students?
How are you celebrating your three-day weekend?!