From the Mouths of Babes…

Have Conversations

Conversations with my children are generally quite insightful.  So insightful that I feel it necessary to share one from this past weekend.

Setting: In my car on Saturday, going to a soccer game.

Characters: Will (4th grade) & Mom

 

Will:  School is boring.

Mom: Well, what makes it boring?

Will: It’s just boring because there are not enough fun activities.

Mom:  What would be some fun activities?

Will: My dream classroom would be…there would be a teleport machine. Every desk would have iPads and on the iPads there would be apps of the students’ choice.  On one wall there would be a beach and on the other wall there would be a math board.

Mom: Interesting.  But, what would be the fun activities?  Part of my job is helping teachers find fun activities for their classes? What should I tell them?

It took a while for me to get Will to understand that teachers have to teach to standards.  But, once he got it, his responses were great.

Will: In Reading / English, teacher should take their classes outside the classroom.  Maybe, they could listen to an audio book together outside.  Every week, they journal about a subject they want to journal about.  Have the kids read what they want, not what the school wants them to read.  This is better because they can have more fun that way when they do what they want to do.  In Technology, every part of class, kids can go on a website they like and play games.  The kids would not be able to go to anything closed off or inappropriate.  And, also in every part of class, they can research on something they want to research on.  They would journal about it. In Math, do fun activities like less Math homework.

Zach (2nd grade) chimed in while I was typing: Rich tasks because, Mom, those are fun.

Will:  Kids should have more field trips and they could choose which class the field trip relates to.  If the school doesn’t have enough money, the teachers should collect donations from the parents or go on field trips around the school campus.  In Science, do more fun labs.  Kids take votes on labs.  In Social Studies, at the end of class, kids get to vote on a fun game to play.

Zach chiming in again: There would be ball chairs.  On some of the tables there would be regular chairs that had wheels on them.  You would get to decide where to sit.  And, on the first day of school, you would get to set your name tag on the seat you wanted and each quarter, you would get to change seats.  And, for homework, teachers would ask you to use Legos.

Reflection

There is so much to reflect upon in this conversation.  But, I would like to end with one question.  What would your students say if you asked them how you could make school (or your class / instruction) more fun?

Who is Your “Person”?

New Year, New Start

Blogging didn’t go so well for me, even after I joined the EduBlog challenge.  But, this time, I am not waiting until the New Year to try again!

Finding That “Person”

I read a lot over summer break and in many of the books I read, there was a theme that you need to find a person to motivate you and encourage you to persist through anything you find to be difficult or a struggle.  Many of the books talked about how educators can be “that person” for their students.  I looked at it from a slightly different perspective because I am not with students every day at this point in my career.

Finding My “Person”

The more I read, the more I reflected on the importance of having that person in my life.  As I thought about it, I truly realized that I have many of these people in my life.  And, in fact, I do much better at those activities where I have a “person”.  I look at my work outs and I have friends and coaches to push me through the hardest workout or races.  I have my Mom who helps me manage my crazy life and always encourages me to slow down to spend more time with my boys.  My colleague and friend, Sarah, pushes me to constantly read more, learn more and be better at my job.  As our opening convocation speaker, Bruce Boguski said, “It does not matter how good you are, you can always be better.”

Blogging is something I have consistently struggled with.  But, I think that this year, I have found my “person” to help me blog on a regular basis.  I need someone to hold me accountable.  When I returned to school earlier this month, our Director of Pupil Services, Julie, asked me about blogging.  As we chatted, we both realized that we could encourage each other to take this step and really reflect on our lives and careers.  We both have a shared interest to offer our reflections to readers on a professional and personal level.

I think about those students who were in my class who needed a person.  I knew of a few, but I know that there were many more.  I may have not been that person for them, but maybe if I had set up more peer mentors in my class, my content would have connected for them.  Sometimes students can be that person for another student.

I love the “buddy” system.  I think that children benefit so much from having an older student to look up to and connect with on a different level.  When my older son, Will, was in Kindergarten, he had a “prayer partner” named Leonardo.  Will thought Leonardo was the best!  He used to excitedly come home and tell us when he had the opportunity to interact with Leonardo!  I remember that they made pesto and tried it together, they went on field trips, were on the same field day team and so much more.  Leonardo is beginning his junior year of High School and we still see him often.  Leonardo was a great role model for Will . There was no way that an adult could have connected with Will in the same way that this older student did.  It would be great to see more schools adopting a system like this to provide a “person” for each student.

I know the importance of having a “person” or “people” in my life to help motivate me! I now have a person who will encourage me to blog and to persist along the way.  Julie, I may not be able to make all of our “blogging meetings”, but I will try to blog once a week!  Let’s make this work!  Thanks for being my person!