Snow Day!

This means that I finally have enough time to sit and post some of the updates I have been wanting to share....

Nothing spectacular has been happening in my classroom, except that my kids love learning. It is almost like I have been afraid to post anything about this drastic change in classroom demeanor because I know that this could be a fleeting moment, and I don't want to jinx things.... but my kids have collectively decided that they are at school to learn.

I caught Jerry explaining to our new student the other day that "man, the day is so much better if you do what you have to do when you get here. I mean, it sucks to stay in your seat or whatever, but when you get all your points up and get good grades it's like it's worth it." This is when Jerry noticed I was listening in, and he looked up, a little embarrassed, and then said, "I'm right, right Ms. G."

"Of course you're right, Jerry."

There have been a lot of changes, and for once I happen to think that they are all adding to the success in my classroom.... Changes are hard to make happen in a BD classroom, but as I'm sure many of you know, they are often necessary. I think that the key is that even if it's not working at first, stick with it, but whatever you do, don't get rid of old routines.

I implemented a brand new Behavior Modification plan weeks ago, but last week was the first full week that it worked the way I intended for it to work. Behavior Mods can be so tiresome and time consuming. I have changed mine so many times, but I think that thing I need to keep in mind is that it WON'T work for my students if it doesn't work for ME. By this I mean that sometimes I let the plan slide a little, or ignore the chart for a few days, because it's too much work to keep up with. In that scenario, even if my kids liked the plan, it couldn't possibly work. Right now I have something simple, inexpensive, and something that I DON'T have to rely on my aides to help with.

(I am not sure how much I have mentioned the inability of my aides to be of significant and meaningful help, but I think that I shall try to post an entire entry on that sometime...)

Behaviors in my class are guided by 4 very strong factors right now, all working together to make for a positive changes, and I have a 5th back-up plan mod, that my kids are familiar with that I use only on days when I see that my students NEED extra supports in place. The 4 big factors are:

1) work chart: This is where the learning part comes in. Students get the opportunity to fill in up to 9 boxes on their chart for the work they are expected to accomplish in a day.

2) desk stickers: Students get stickers on their desk for doing the right thing. When I catch kids seated, calm, with positive behaviors geared towards learning, I simply place a sticker on their desk. My students are in competition to see who can get their desk filled up the fastest.

3) awards: On top of awards for behaviors that are tallied at the end of the week, awards for good attendance, good test scores, and doing classwork in all subject areas, etc, I give the kids daily opportunities to get recognized in the classroom. This includes getting your name on a leaf on the "Tree of Kindness", earning a handshaped cut-out on the "Helping Hands make the world go 'Round" wall, or students can work towards a "Bad Wolves Teamwork Award" if they are working cooperatively and positively with one another.

4) daily parent logs: I have these down to an art form. I made a check-sheet with the most common behaviors seen in my classroom, (both positive and negative) and fill one out for each child for both the morning and afternoon. They are sent home nightly and expected to be returned the next day. Of course, many of my students have little to no parental supervision, but the looming threat of nightly phone calls keeps most of the parent logs coming back in.

Just to be fair, all of this love of learning doesn't come without a price... my prize bin has been something that I find very difficult to keep stocked with fun yet inexpensive prizes. Then, being me, I always try to make the prizes at least in some way educational. The way I see it thoigh, is that if the least of my concerns is that I have to spend a few extra bucks each week to fill my prize bin, then I guess I'm doing okay.

Things have been looking up again, and I hope that this stays for at least a little while. In the meantime, I am trying to take this time to determine what I am going to do with the next year of my life. I am at a crossroads, and I have learned that I probably can still apply and take classes to become permanently certified as a special education teacher. This would mean that I need to be committed to teaching again next year, and I'm not sure if that's what I want for myself.

More to come....

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey punk that's really awesome I"m glad that you'r students are being better, I like reading about the happenings in your classroom. I'm glad that this was a good update.
love ya

2/15/2007 1:52 PM  
Blogger JohnL said...

I like it! I like it!

Those emphases on the positives are really wonderful. Press ahead. Capitalize on the moment. When they seem to be loving learning, that's the time to lay on the goodies.

Thanks for the day brightener, lady.


2/21/2007 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like you have been working extremely hard to get your students to this point and that the success is finally paying off. Your behavior strategies are very well-planned and consistent. It is funny when kids finally realize that learning can be more fun than fighting against the teacher all day. It must mean that what you are teaching them is meaningful, which is wonderful. Congrats on your success and good luck in the future!

2/26/2007 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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2/26/2007 11:44 AM  

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