Monday, July 24, 2017

2x10 - Making it Happen! - Explore Inquiry Pt. 2

This blog post is a follow up to my last post about Building Positive Relationships in the classroom.

 Day one of my summer school placement and I was struggling. I was placed in a classroom with 30 first graders. I'm use to teaching upper elementary -- 4th - 6th grade. 1st grade is a whole different world. These specific students needed attention... A LOT of it. From day one, there was a lot of negative behavior. We struggled with getting these students to follow basic directions. Quite frequently, I would give a direction, and a student (or two, or three) would stare at me as I'm speaking, then look away and continue doing whatever they felt like. Frustration (I'm sure on both sides) was at an all time high. My students were probably wondering, 'Who is this lady?' These first graders had two other teachers the entire school year. I came waltzing in the first day of summer school and expected them to do whatever they were told to do just because I was their teacher and "they should know better."

Boy, was I wrong.

These students didn't need a teacher {yet}. They weren't prepared to listen to someone and take orders from them. What they needed was an adult who cared about them. An adult who would listen to their concerns (even if they were just, "He cut in front of me!").

So here's what I did. I chose six students. Six students who I felt I was struggling the most with. Everyday, for ten days, I spent two minutes with each student... and we talked. I learned which kids never got to see their dad. Which students were no longer going to be the baby of the family because their mom was pregnant. Finally, I learned which students felt like their teachers didn't care about them (Already! In 1st grade!).

Over the next ten days, I kept anecdotal notes on the students I spent time with. I kept track of what we talked about, what I learned about each one of them, and finally, how their behavior changed. It wasn't an overnight change, but by the end of summer school, I noticed drastic, positive differences in the behavior of some of my students. Students who refused to participate were now the first to volunteer. My students were willingly spending their recess walking with me or sitting on a bench chatting. When I took the time to get to know my students, they began to trust me and life in the 1st grade became easier.

What can you do to make a change in the environment of your classroom?

Blog about it, tweet it out, just be sure you share it with me!


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