Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Can We Duplicate These Teachers' Methods?

Via ABC News:

This Florida Special Ed teacher,  Chris Ulmer, starts the school day with uplifting words to his students.

In his first year of teaching, he said, each day had a theme, like "Monday Funday" and "Toast Tuesday," which is when the affirmations began. "I noticed the kids were always more motivated, happier and better behaved on Tuesdays. So we started doing it every day." 

"They all came from a segregated environment [from general education students]. Now they're participating in school activities, dancing in front of hundreds of other kids and in the debate club." And while Ulmer agrees academics are important, he thought it even more important to reverse the psychological damage that came from being made to feel like outcasts.

Is this possible in every class every day?  Maybe not.  But it is my experience, just as a mom, that it's just as important to point out the good in children as the not-so-good. 

(Sometimes when I'm grocery shopping and I see a mom with little kids who are being helpful, I tell the kids how lucky their mom is to have such great little helpers.  Kids never fail to smile.  It's also a nice thing for moms to hear.)

There's also this story about a third-grade Colorado teacher, Kylie Schwartz, who started an action in her classroom.  She had the kids fill in this sentence, "I wish my teacher knew...." and invited kids to fill in the blank.  (#iwishmyteacherknew)

"Ninety-two percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch," Schwartz tells ABC News. "As a new teacher, I struggled to understand the reality of my students' lives and how to best support them. I just felt like there was something I didn't know about my students." 

"I let students determine if they would like to answer anonymously," she says. "I have found that most students are not only willing to include their name, but also enjoy sharing with the class. Even when what my students are sharing is sensitive in nature, most students want their classmates to know. 

"Some notes are heartbreaking like the first #iwishmyteacherknew tweet which read, 'I wish my teacher knew I don't have pencils at home to do my homework.'

Building community in my classroom is a major goal of this lesson. After one student shared that she had no one to play with at recess, the rest of the class chimed in and said, 'we got your back.' The next day during recess, I noticed she was playing with a group of girls. Not only can I support my students, but my students can support each other." 

Teaching kindness and empathy - just one more value-add from these teachers.

2 comments:

Name said...

While the rest of the students sit there bored as can be...

Name

Anonymous said...

The first teacher teaches in a clinic- based private school. They all have ILPs and school based therapies that they have to pay for. Most of those students have autism. That is a common social skill taught in autism classroom. I sometimes resent posts/articles that imply, just based on the title, that teachers don't do this or other acts of kindness and empathy. It's a more subtle form of teacher bashing and it makes me feel sad on behalf of all teachers who come to school every day and give it their all.
Tired Teacher