This Sucks! Featured
This is awesome!!!...
You've probably been there before. A student, frustrated with their hand in the air decides it's all of a sudden ok to yell across the room "Hey Teacher!" (they might use your name, but you get the point). There's a good chance this isn't a rare occurrence in your classroom. You're awesome, so you probably manage your classroom well and when this happens, you reinforce your expectations and model appropriate behavior.
And that's good. That's what you should do. But I'd like to take thisa step further and look at what causes this type of disturbance to happen in your classroom.
The Classroom Management 'Play By Play'
Step 1: Bobby raises his hand across the room, silently, as they are supposed to. They can't continue working without assistance. And because you are helping Katie at the moment, and your back is to Bobby, you don't see him raise his hand.
Step 2: You finishing assisting Katie and move on to Jake, who is close by and just raised his hand. Now, you don't know this, but Jake actually has a much less urgent question than Bobby, but because Jake was closer, you noticed him first. This frustrates Bobby, because he raised his hand first. He now feels like he is being ignored....
This is a journey into the mind of my seven-year-old grandson, who builds amazing Lego inventions like the above robot creation and is interested in many things. Just not what he’s learning in school. In fact, when I asked him if he was looking forward to starting second grade next week, his response was a resounding NO. School is so boring, he claims.
My husband and I had the pleasure of having our grandson all to ourselves as we drove him from his home in Indiana to ours in Evanston, Illinois. The ride took a little over three hours and he shared so many ideas with us that I can’t remember all of them. All I know is he has a lot going on in his head.
This was an old-fashioned trip for him – no headphones or iPad. We started by playing the classic “I spy with my little eye” game. He noticed so many interesting details in what is usually a boring ride across a flat and empty landscape. Of course, he always stumped us so we never got a turn.
Next, he shared details about various Pokemon characters, his latest obsession. He has a vision for how to blend this interest with his other passion, Legos. He is truly a master builder and can construct elaborate kits by himself as well as create his own inventions. So he outlined his plans for new Lego sets that incorporate Pokemon and force fields. Most likely, these already exist, but we were not about to dampen his enthusiasm. Nor did we suggest he reconsider his plan to make his sets not cost too much so all kids could buy them....
Do you ever feel as a leader that what you are doing just isn't good enough, that if you only could do more then it would all be better. There are days you question your calling and wonder if you have it in you to continue. It is in those moments that great reflection and clarity can reaffirm your passion and purpose. Wherever you are in your journey consider the following...
Embrace the Mess
The moment we start falling in love with our content or a token issue we lose sight of what matters most. Our job isn't about teaching curriculum, but rather reaching students. I like what Michelle Forman, a former national teacher of the year, has to say, "learning and teaching is messy stuff, it doesn't fit into bubbles." Many of us are on high need campuses where our students look to us to provide for them well beyond the required curriculum. Daily I encounter students who feel school is the safest place they can be. Face it, our kids and families often come from challenging situations. As leaders, we must accept people as they come, not as we want them to be. People grow when they are loved. It's in the mess that the real learning happens. Reaching the whole child or family requires that we position ourselves to see life not through our content or instructional expertise but simply as a human being.
We must fight a tendency to treat others as some kind of impersonal "stakeholder" or "customer." These kind of words at their worst allow us to serve people from a distance, rather than up close and personal. Some might accuse our profession of caring too much. When did this become a problem? The anxiety level of many teachers is at an all-time high because we realize the stakes are so high to be so much to so many who need us. You just need to remember that it isn't your job to fix kids or people, just love them through it.
Elevate The Conversation...
Those of us of a certain age, who are looking at the possibility of retirement in the not-too-distant future, think often about purpose. We typically know someone who retired and shortly thereafter passed away. Or someone who, despite counting down the years until retirement, was completely lost once it occurred. The missing element, we know, was purpose. These adults no longer felt a sense of purpose and it didn’t serve them well.
All human beings need to feel a sense of purpose – and that includes kids. Even young children, who don’t yet know the definition of the word, feel it when engaged in activities for which they have great enthusiasm. And older kids? How much more fulfilling life in general – and school, specifically – would be if they felt a real sense of purpose in what they were doing?
Purpose – having a long-term meaningful goal -- takes us beyond ourselves. Tony Wagner, whom I interviewed for Studentcentricity, along with William Damon and Jill Berkowicz, called purpose “transcendent.”
Following our discussion, Bill contributed these additional thoughts:...