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As part of a child’s behavior modification plan, the student will be transferring to my classroom for the last quarter of the school year.  The student starts tomorrow.  Bringing a new student into the mix, especially, one with a history of behavior issues consistent with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant is going to be interesting.  But, I have to keep in mind that if I am nervous, the child must be feeling the same if not more uncertain about what it’s going to be like to be in a new class.

I’ve notified my class and we wrote her Welcome letters as part of our Writing unit on letter writing. I am going into this like it’s the first day of school.  We have to welcome this student, and I have to be clear about my expectations, management style, and what procedures are followed every day.  We will model appropriate and inappropriate behavior.  The goal is to get her on the same routine as the other kids and make her feel comfortable along the way.

I just hope and pray this doesn’t throw off my class dynamic and doesn’t undo all the progress I’ve made with my other children struggling with the same behaviorial issues. We’ve gotten into a good groove in my class.

Here’s to compassion, consistency, and patience.

It’s interesting what works for one student in terms of behavior modification, doesn’t work for others.  It’s a balancing act.  I’ve tried several reward systems with my most challenging student.  First, it was getting a star for doing something good.  Well, that soon lost it’s impact because the student was oppositional and defiant ALL the time and when he didn’t get his stars, he would be embarrassed because the class would know about it.  Because I knew he got embarrassed easily and had low self-esteem academically, with the guidance of my social service network at school, I decided to reward the kids around him for modeling good behavior and ignore him for the bad behavior.  That worked for a short while.  But it wasn’t consistent due to absences, etc.  Then, I noticed how much he loves to help adults.  So, the Special Ed autistic classroom teacher agreed to support me in rewarding the student with time in her classroom to help her students.  My student loves this reward.  It was good for about a week and then my student just shut down this past Friday.  He was angry, and would be set off if someone touched him or even looked at him.  Unfortunately, he earned a suspension for acting out in school and won’t be in school tomorrow.  I’m thinking about him and hope that when he comes in on Tuesday, he realizes that I care and want to help him.

My birthday was earlier this month and I got SHIT for my birthday.  Literally.  We’ve had the Poop Phantom visit our boy’s bathroom since November, leaving a piece behind in the urinal.  The fourth time was on my birthday and it was one of our first graders.  Fortunately, the Poop Phantom revealed himself quickly and honestly.  It’s a rather funny story, but not funny when you think about the reason this child defecated in a urinal.  If you know anything about child psychology and trauma, you may immediately associate this to some kind of acting out, or sexual abuse.  In this case, his cousin was found hung in a bathroom stall.  No wonder he doesn’t want to go into a stall!  Now, he goes to the bathroom supervised and, hopefully, the Poop Phantom will not strike again and the help that my student is getting for this trauma will allow him to not fear a bathroom stall.

I registered my classroom to be adopted by potential donors. And, I’ve already been adopted!  Sometimes you just have to stop making up the stories in your head that say, “People are tired of having you ask for money,” or “People can’t give at this time in our economy.”  There are people out there who care about children, education, and teachers who make it work with what they have.  It’s nice every once in a while to not have to be flexible, make it work, deal with second-hand items for the kids, but show the kids that they are worthy of having the best and it’s all just for them.  If you’d like to make a donation to my classroom or any other, you with have instant gratification because teachers do not delay in getting what they need for their students.  And, you will know right where your money is going.  And no cash changes hands.  It goes into an account that the specific teacher can then access to shop with predetermined vendors.  Check it out!

I came across 43things.com, a blog where you can list and track your goals.  It’s very freeing and empowering to put my goals down on paper and hold myself accountable to them by making them public.  Somehow sharing my goals and enrolling others makes them that much more real and tangible.  Also, because I’m going public with them, I feel accountable for reaching them.  Click here to see my list and come up with your own!  Let’s help each other!

I go back to the classroom on Monday and am looking for ways to do goal-setting with my students.  My kids are in first grade.  I’m going to surf the web for some practical goal setting activities for 7 yr. olds.  If you are reading this and have any ideas or leads, please leave a comment.  Thanks!

Parent Communication

This week marks the halfway point in the 2nd quarter and progress reports will be distributed to parents on Wednesday.  I feel like a Manager with 18 employees and I’m giving each employee their evaluation on Wednesday. It’s a bit nerveracking, especially since I don’t feel like I’ve been a good Manager.  Ugh!  I just remember this idea of being the perfect teacher who along with the student and parent would help the child reach their fullest potential.  There would be constant communication between me and the parent.  I would inform the parent of the child’s progress, develop individualized lesson plans for each child, be able to sit with children who need more one-on-one attention or be retaught a concept.  But, it is indescribable just how  much work it is to keep up with each children’s academic progress.  It’s like doing 18 lesson plans EVERY DAY for up to 7 different subjects.  Just writing this down makes my chest feel tight!  My goal is to be able to distribute my own little “heads up” your kid is struggling note a week or two prior to progress reports so that my parents are not surprised and we can work together to develop a remediation plan of some sort.  If anyone reading this has any ideas on a system to periodically and effortlessly inform parents of their child’s progress, let me know.  I could use all the advise and techniques I can get!

Writing Wardrobe

Let’s face it.  Writing has always been seen as a punishment as in elementary school, “I will not talk” tweny times and as a dreaded task through our young adult schooling-pulling allnighters to write a twenty page paper. I wanted to do something for my kids to see that writing can be fun and can be something you look forward to instead of dread.  You may have always sat at a particular computer in your college computer lab, or always worn a comfy sweatshirt/sweatpants, or put your hair up in a particular way to write…I know I did.  Just like an athlete doesn’t wash their smelly socks before a game, I had a sweatshirt I wore as I sat down to read a good book or spend a long night in the dorm writing a paper.  So, why should my first graders be any different?

As I was thinking of ways to engage them in writing and cultivating little authors, a friend of  mine posted on facebook that she was having a hard time getting rid of some clothes, accessories, etc.  I immediately thought of my kids and how I could use these clothes to inspire them to write.  I introduced them to the concept of having a “writing wardrobe.”  Something that helps them think, that inspires them to write, that they can fidget with and touch whenever they want to feel “smart,”etc  They totally believe it! Now whenever we sit down to write, they need their “writing wardrobe.”  It is so cool to watch my boy rubbing the arm of his aviator glasses, or my Artist put the purse on her shoulder, or my ADD like boy wrap himself with a sarong…it really does work to calm them down and focus.  Thanks to the clown nose, feather boa, and floppy hat that my friend threw in, “Writey Wiley” comes out every once in a while to check on the kids;)  They love it and I love seeing them write and write and write and write….

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