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Posted by on in General

each-other.jpg

My daughter had not lost a tooth in what seemed like years. So when it came time to leave her a gift from the Tooth Fairy we weren’t quite sure what to leave. So we hid a five dollar bill under her pillow. We each thought that was a reasonable amount.

To backtrack, the night before, my son, who had yet to lose a tooth, was more excited than anyone. He couldn’t wait to see what the Tooth Fairy was would leave her. When they woke up, neither one of them could find anything. At first they were disappointed. Then I unraveled the blanket and a five dollar bill appeared. My son was excited. My daughter. Not so much.

Apparently one of her friends had recently gotten earrings and a shirt from the Tooth Fairy. So five dollars must have paled in comparison. I went downstairs to begin getting ready for the day. Part of me was felt that my daughter was spoiled for not being grateful for the five dollars. Another part of me was trying to put myself in her shoes.

It is not always easy for a parent to put themselves in their child's shoes. But I try.

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Posted by on in General

school door

The new school year was in full swing with the first month nearly history when the new kid arrived. The smiling spiky-haired eleven-year-old bounced from class to class easily making friends with all he encountered. He was quickly absorbed into the close-knit sixth grade class.

Happily, he bounced throughout the day…everyday.   His reading teacher stopped him on the sidewalk one afternoon before he entered her class. “César,” she inquired, “Why are you always smiling?” He looked at her and grinned. “I’m just blessed,” he innocently responded, and then with an extra surge of energy, he joined his friends inside.

I make it a point to be a fairly visible administrator on campus everyday and to get to know all of the kids at my school. With over a thousand in attendance, I am lucky to know a first name or a last name (rarely both!) and a little something about each student. I involve myself in hundreds of conversations daily and really try to connect with all of "my kids." Sometimes I call them to my office just to check on them. Sometimes they pop in just to say hello or to ask for help with something that is bothering them. Most of the time all of these very important exchanges occur somewhere along the sidewalk leading to class.

César's bubbly personality and constant good cheer had won me over as he introduced himself his first day at school. I was intrigued by his simple comment to his teacher. Sixth grade boys rarely are that insightful, rarely willing to speak from the heart. I had the secretary call for him to come to my office.

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Posted by on in General

pill

"Mr. President, the pilot has announced he will be landing the plane in Dallas in ten minutes."

"You know, I don't have a good feeling about this. Tell the pilot to turn the plane around and head back to Washington. Okay?"

Such was a typical exchange between me and Luke, an eighth-grade special needs student. He usually provided the set up leaving me to improvise some witty response. Genuinely entertained and fully understanding my comeback, he did what any junior high student would do: he grinned, he groaned and he walked back to his seat.

Luke was a member of the developmental education class which consisted of several wonderful teenagers with intellectual disabilities. He was autistic and academically delayed, and his inability to fully socialize with others had greatly interfered with his learning over the years. He was intensely aware of his personal space and was fairly choosy as to who could be in it.

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Posted by on in General

 

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My second-grade teacher, Mrs. Thompson, was a pudgy little lady with hair cropped close to her head. She looks mean in the yellowed class picture near the front of my school days’ scrapbook. But I can’t recall a single angry word ever spoken.

I do remember that Mrs. Thompson was allergic to chalk. And I remember her compensating for this disability with charts. Math charts, writing charts, spelling charts, reading charts...every wall was plastered. We judged the day simply on the number of charts we had to conquer.

Something in my mastery of the charted standards must have caught Mrs. Thompson’s attention. One day during math, as the rest of the class copied and solved the math problems from the latest chart, she came to my desk with a reprieve. She told me that she was impressed with my writing and that I was going to be allowed to write stories instead. She led me down the hall to Miss Manning’s room (where I had lived my first-grade days) and asked if I could borrow the story starter box, a collection of pictures to inspire creative writers.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

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I recently started reading the book Playful Parenting by Dr. Lawrence J. Cohen, a psychologist from Massachusetts. In his book, the author talks about teaching rather than punishing our kids. He claims, and I must admit that it makes a lot of sense to me, that we can best achieve that through "Playful Parenting."

Playful parenting is a practice through which parents can help handle strong emotions kids and they themselves experience. It emphasizes "joining children in their world, focusing on connection and confidence, giggling and roughhousing, and reversing roles and following your child's lead." And, perhaps most importantly, it can help you learn to reconsider your paradigms involving discipline and punishment.

Why not adopt such philosophy in our classrooms?

Join Students and Connect with Them

Find it in your heart to give yourself permission to make frequent excursions into your student’s world. You’ve been there before. Those brain neurons are still there, hidden underneath the “I’m an adult now” ones. Time to recall them to action. You’ll be glad you did.

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