Tuesday, September 9, 2014

THAT Group

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.<br />SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.<br />GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

Every school has at least one, the grade level that has been notorious since they first arrived. Stories are whispered (or louder as frustration levels grow) amongst teachers. Everyone watches that group as they moved up. You hold your breath as they approach your grade level (or even switch grade levels to avoid them).

That group has something about its chemistry, something about the combination of individuals that seem to make learning and cooperating a challenge for all.

That group is in fifth grade this year at my school.

One advantage about being in the middle grades is that you know they are coming. We knew they were coming. We were ready. Even during “Move Up Day” last June we sent a clear message, as a grade level, that we have high standards and expect those standards to be met.

(During “Move Up Day” I let two different students visit the hall, due to sheer lack of respect for others, myself included, until they could join the group appropriately.)

School started with a clean slate for all. Expectations were revealed, modeled, discussed, role played, and continue to be reviewed and practiced. We are in the second week of school and they aren’t there yet. At times I wonder if there will ever be a time that ‘one voice at a time’ is heard this year. At other times I catch them going seven, or twelve minutes, meeting the expectations – and we celebrate.

Today we sat on the carpet at the end of the day and I asked them what is and isn’t working for them.

I started with what isn’t working. (I wanted to end with the positive.) They only had three things; two behaviorally and one about the size of the carpet in our room.

I then asked them what is working. I was blown away with the list they came up with! I forget that there are things I do that aren’t done by other teachers. These things are part of the way my room has always run. These students have fresh eyes and things like “no line order”, “we get to choose where we sit”, and “lots of books” were shared. The what IS working list took up the entire side of the board.

We admired how much longer the what IS working list is than what is NOT working.

Then we set about looking for solutions for the three things on the shorter list.

This was a refreshing way to end the day, for all of us.

1 comment:

  1. How refreshing! I remember a class with that reputation coming when I taught fifth grade. I began the year with a class meeting...we set goals and all that...but then I told them my goal was to change this reputation (because they knew it)...that it would be great fun to prove everyone wrong. It was just a stab in the dark by me, but they bought it...and we made plans on how to do that. That class ended up being my all time favorite...so creative...so eager to learn...such good leaders. I like that your class had such a long list on what was going right. That says something about what you are doing! Can't wait to hear more about your year. Jackie http://familytrove.blogspot.com/