Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Big Elephant in the Room


One day I was in a panic, looking for a book on responsibility.  I had 5 minutes before I needed to pick up my kids, and traveled to one of my favorite first grade friends' room.  My friend, Patty, was gracious enough to look through her bins and gave me 3 "possible"  books for my need.  The first two were a little primary, but the last one would work.
The Big Elephant in The Room was PERFECT!!!!  It's written by Lane Smith, who is known for his subtle humor, with a deeper message.  The two characters are having a "conversation" about the big elephant in the room. You and I know it could be an issue that is "in the room", but noone is talking about it.  One of the characters is questioning all his previous "acts" that were self-centered and not at all like a responsible individual:-(  There is a literal ending at the end, which brings it all together.  But, fourth graders get the hidden message.

    I was in need of some heart-to-heart talks with my class.  We all were "talking the talk", but weren't "walking the walk!"  We opened up about the "elephants" in our room that were hindering our learning and working together.  Our discussion branched into other avenues that I did not even know were happening:(  All in all, it was the perfect book to bring all our issues out on the "table" and discuss ways to improve our classroom.  I've seen much improvement in our classroom attitude.    I'm going to reread this book every month to continue working on ways to make our classroom better than the month before.  I ended up ordering the book last week, and shared it with another colleague.  The same conversations took place in her room and she was amazed:)
I LOVE picture books:)!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

My First Two Weeks

These are the my Top Five things I am most proud of in my first two weeks of school:

    1.  I am moving agonizingly slow, but am seeing the benefits from my classroom community.  I have put blinders around me so that I don't start getting anxious when others are "testing" over material and I'm not halfway through.

    2.  My Morning and Closing Meetings are ROCKIN' the house.  We pass a stone so that whoever has the stone, has the voice.  We begin the day sharing and end the day sharing.  At 3:15, we pack up and sit in a circle celebrating something from our day.  For the first time in "many" years, the end of the day is filled with joy, not madness.  Today, we began Poetry Friday.  I had my students come to the Morning Meeting and we went around the room reading a poem.  I forgot to pass the stone.  One of my students said, "Mrs. Archer, we didn't have a morning meeting."  I, then realized that my class is recognizing our daily routine, even when I forget.

    3.  Over a 5 minute conversation at recess, a fellow colleague and I came up with an idea, wrote it up at lunch, was approved by our principal, and shared with our parents at Curriculum Night.  I LOVE being self-contained!!!!  I LOVE my math workshop, my reading workshop, and my creation station!!! But, I can take or leave the content areas.  My fellow colleague LOVES, LOVES, LOVES science, and I enjoy Social Studies.  We mapped out the year, so that our classes will switch monthly for Science and Social Studies.  It's going to benefit both of us, along with our kids.  But, the biggest reason it will work, is we are like-minded thinkers.  We both are very hands-on, project-oriented teachers and our philosophies mesh!!  What a ride it will be.  I shared with our class that we are the first at our school to try this, so we need to work diligently to pave the path for others.

    4.  I've been taking ideas from the Responsive  Classroom and making them my own.  Today, we talked about how once our words are out, we can't take them back.  Similar to crumpling up a piece of paper, you can never make it smooth again.    Sometimes saying "I'm Sorry" isn't enough.  Today, we started a list of Apologies of Action, things to do instead of saying I'm sorry.

    5.  I've made an impact on some of my "promising" students.  They are recognizing I accept them where they are, and will do anything to move them forward.

All in all, a good two weeks.  How have your first weeks gone?