Thursday, August 21, 2008

As Real as Gravity

When thinking of a name for my blog, I almost chose As Real as Gravity from a favorite quote about positive energy being as real as gravity. Positive energy spreads and builds and creates more positive energy. Nowhere is this truer than in schools (ok, well, maybe it is truer elsewhere, but how would I know?).

One of the special things about teaching is that we have the opportunity to create an environment where learning takes place. As I prepare for another year, I thought I'd share a few resources for positivity, some of them simply quotes, stories or memories. I have been so fortunate to have had some incredible mentors over the years, people who've taught me well. And these days I have an amazing network of "teacher-friends" online, in my PLN, people whose blogs I read. 

TJ Shay shared this great site where you can get free posters for your classroom. These posters are terrific, the illustrations are really adorable. I plan to print some out and place them around the room. But I also love the idea of having the kids create their own posters with positive reminders and such. 

I've spent a lot of time lately reading the various blogs from Chet's Creek Elementary School, a local public school with a great reputation. I can see why it has the reputation for being an excellent school. As you read the teacher's blogs (impressive in itself just how many teacher-bloggers there are at Chet's Creek), you can feel the excitement and passion for teaching. It is only natural for students to catch on that "Learning is FUN!" As one of my earliest mentors used to say, "They (students) are in school because they're ALIVE!" (His class, overcrowded by anyone's standards, was always a place of excitement and engagement.) One of the Chet's Creek blogs featured First Day of School Stories which had lots of fun ideas. Here is one of my favorites:

Around Chets Creek in 180 Days via kwout

Just reading that, I know that I would like to be one of Mr. Ruark's 5th grade students. 

Here was my own daughter's first day of 2nd grade homework: the students were each given a paper bag filled with a few, little items and the following instructions:

Opening, reading and sharing this bag of goodies with your parents is part of your first homework assignment.

1. The toothpick is to remind you to "pick out" the good qualities in your classmates and in yourself.

2. The gold thread is to remind you that friendship ties our hearts together. 

3. The chocolate kiss reminds you that you can always come to me if you need someone to talk to.

4. The star is to remind you to shine and always do your best. 

5. The penny is to remind you that you are valuable and special.

6. The band-aid is to remind you to heal hurt feelings in your friends and in yourself. 

7. The rubber band is to remind you to hug someone.

8. The eraser is to remind you that everyone makes mistakes and that is ok. 

9. The tissue is to remind you to help dry someone's tears. 

10. The sticker is to remind you that we all stick together and help each other. 

Now I would like for you to think of something that you could add to this bag. Write 3-4 sentences explaining why the item you chose would be useful and why it is important for us to remember to use all of the other items that are in the bag. 

My daughter's other teacher kept telling us, at back to school "Meet and Greet" that she does this or that because "the kid's love it, it makes them happy, it makes them feel good, that she just wants them to love learning, to love the subject she teaches." I can't tell you how happy that made me as a parent. If my child loves learning and feels positive about herself as a person, a friend and a learner...I know it will take her the distance and allow her to learn what she needs and wants to learn, to attack challenging problems with confidence, to make a contribution to the world.

For our pre-planning in-service this year, we participated in a workshop from Operation Respect. At the start of the workshop, the facilitator asked us this question, "If you had one last class to teach, and that day you were given magic powers that would guarantee that the students would truly, deeply learn one lesson from you, what would you teach?

Are you surprised to know that not one person answered with a concept from math or science, grammar or spelling? All of the answers had to do with self-awareness and awareness of others, being a good person. Those are the lessons that truly matter. 

Graphic from "The North Star" gallery, from the book "The North Star" by Peter H. Reynolds. 

1 comment:

Melanie Holtsman said...

It's so important to remember what kids will take from our room, not just what they will do in our room. Over the years, it has been eye opening to me what kids return to tell me they loved about my class: a play performance, a special book we read, a story I told them from my life, a private pep talk between us... I know we're not wasting time with the basics but we HAVE to make time to teach their hearts. :)