Update: I am done

I cannot believe how quickly student teaching began and ended, but as of last Friday I am done. It was really hard leaving my second graders who I have grown to love very deeply, but I told them that moving on is part of growing up for them and for me. I cried because it is so sad to leave this amazing group of children, half the students cried to.
It was important that they were given an opportunity to write thank you notes to me, because we found that gave them the chance to process what was going to happen when I was gone. One girl in particular needed that writing opportunity to express that she was sad and did not want this to happen.
I told the class that I will be back to say hello next semester, and anytime Kathy needs to be out for the day I will come to take care of them, and anytime another teacher in the building calls me to sub I will walk down to their room and peek in to say hello.
Finding a teacher job at this time of the year is not out of the question, but I am not up for the uncertainty right now. Instead I have decided to spend the rest of the school year dividing my time between nanny work with a few local families, and substitute teaching. In the mean time I will continue preparing myself for the job that I pray I will find at the start of the 2011-2012 school year.

Book Share -Teaching with Love and Logic

Teaching with Love and Logic, by Jim Fay and David Funk is part of the love and logic philosophy (learn more at loveandlogic.com), they believe that to get the best out of children we need to teach and discipline out of love, understanding, and compassion.
The book is an easy read with concrete examples of how to use this philosophy in a classroom at any grade level. One thing that I really like about this book, is that the authors are asking the readers to try what works for them and not to overturn everything that has worked in the past. They are not out to make every teacher feel badly about everything they have ever done to their students, rather they are inviting the teacher who wants the best results out of students, and is not yet seeing them, to try some ideas that have worked for others.

I agree that not every rule needs to be written out to the letter, and I agree that when we do that students will find loop-holes and tell us that we have been unfair when disciplinary action is required on something not clearly and fully laid out. I am also very freed by the idea that I do not need to apply consequences the moment I am offended. In fact according to the authors it can be more effective to wait until you have the time to deal with a consequence, because in the meantime the student will worry about what is coming and will be seeking a way to make it better, they will also have an opportunity to cool off so that you are not trying to consequence someone who is ready at the moment they did something wrong to fight over it.

I am also taken by the idea of empathy. Whenever there is a consequence I can say to the child, “I am sorry that this is happening to you” and they will learn that I am not just out to fight with them, but I am actually hoping they will not have to suffer.

What I have applied most of all to my regular life is the plan to give choices with more than one option that I like. I have often stopped myself from getting angry and having a fight by asking myself what options I can allow here. For example, “you may change into a Pull-Up, or you may choose not to listen to a story tonight. The choice is yours” in this example he chose not to change and he was very upset not to have a story. I needed only to tell him how I would live my life, and the next time we had a question about this, he chose to put on a Pull-Up.

I recommend this book to any teacher who is looking for the freedom to teach students who want to be taught, I will keep it in my parent library and I expect to refer to it myself from time-to-time.

Book Share - Yardsticks

One of the books that student teachers in under my supervisors direction are required to read is a wonderful book about the ages of our students and the importance of educating in a way that is age-appropriate. Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14 by Chip Wood gives a fairly brief introduction to child development and makes an argument for the need to teach children at their level even as they are grouped at different ages in a single classroom. Wood points out that at any grade level in any school there will be most often three different ages. For example a second grade classroom may have older sixes, sevens and young eights. Add to this the fact that a child could have been held back and there is another whole year to that group of children. Not only are the students different ages grouped together, but they will also be maturing at different rates.
The book gives age-by-age expectations we can have for our students, but it begins by teaching that there are four Principles of Child Development:
  1. Development follows predictable patterns.
  2. Children go through predictable stages in the same order, but they will not all go through them at the same rate.
  3. The aspects of development do not proceed at the same rate.
  4. Growth is uneven.
So from the start Yardsticks it was made clear, (or if you already know it is brought home) that even a group of children at the same age will have a wide range of needs and will be developed at different stages in different aspects of development.
Wood goes on to stress the need for students physical needs to be met and to be made a high priority in the classroom.
After introducing some facts of development, and some of the ways that teachers and parents can help their children to develop, Wood goes on to have a chapter for every year. In these chapters he explains what is normal at the age.
This book is a valuable tool for parents and teachers to know what to expect of their students. To gain some understanding for the variations in development, but also to be aware of what is normal, and what they might be concerned about.

Sub Plans

I am thinking about what I will put in my bag of tricks while subbing next year. Thanks to my in-laws I have a gift card for Learning Resources, and I am thinking about the best way to spend my money that will be productive in the "right away", so while I am subbing and looking for a full-time position.
What occurred to me is that I need decks of quiz cards. Any old games that have quiz questions (such as Blurt, or Outburst, or Trivial Pursuit) that need some new life can go into my bag of tricks, so I will be going to thrift stores looking for the old games that need new life.
I was also thinking about the valuable resource of Brain Quest, which has decks of questions at any level and are right now on sale on Amazon. With decks of questions in my bag I can follow the sub plans that are left behind, but also add something to do with the class if the plans left do not fill enough time. It will be as simple as selecting a deck that is on-level for the class I am in on any given day.
If there is just a little bit of time I can use a KooshBall to toss as students try to answer the questions, and if there is a lot of time to fill I can set up a climbing game and teams on the board.
I am really excited to have found a fun way to pass time when I sub, because the most nerve-racking thing when subbing is the possiblity of unhappy kids and nothing to keep them occupied.
At the same point if I have a class that is truly unruly I can pull out a question and tell the students that since they don't want to work with my they will sit quietly at their desk and answer a question.
Brain Quest has a question of the day widget that I have added here to my blog (for the time being) so check it out and let me know if you have ideas about what I can do while I am subbing and stuck in unexpected situations. Do you have any stories about subs?