Okay, so I have to admit something. I have a little bit of ADD. I have never been tested, and I don't want to take anything away from people with an actual diagnosis (so, please, don't think I am doing this here). I just have the attention span of a mosquito. In school, I was a straight A student, but my mom did have to come in for conferences every year because I wasn't doing my homework or completing my work in class. How did I still manage an A? I have no idea. I just didn't like to do things that I didn't find interesting.
For example, I would go home and take notes out of our Encyclopedias (yet, no Google back then) and write my own reports. However, I wouldn't complete the two page spelling assignment I had for homework.
Of course, I have come a long way from then. I do a lot of things that aren't particularly interesting or fun now. I guess that just comes with growing up.
Anyway, the reason I love a new trimester is that I can change things in my classroom and look like I had planned on that change all along, but really it is just my ADD kicking in.
And actually, the changes I am making on Monday (new trimester for us) are not really ADD related at all.
On Friday I had a great talk with one of the veteran teachers at my school. We are so different, but get along really well.
Here are some examples of how we are different...
Her students come in silently and get right to work. My students have a little chat and then (with my reminder) get to work.
Her class is super quiet. My class (while always on topic) can easily get a little loud.
Okay, I think you get it. Most of these things are noise related. Although, I also let my students move around the classroom more. Her kids are always in their seats.
Well, we were talking about this (and other stuff, I don't remember how this part came up exactly) and she said that her students have to earn the right to go to the bathroom any time they want. Not that she doesn't let kids go to the bathroom - they have seven opportunities throughout the day to go. Going any time you want is being in the middle of a lesson and getting up to go to the bathroom.
You all know what I am talking about, right? There are the kids who never ask to go to the bathroom, are always working, and are very polite in the way they ask. If one of these kids say they have to go to the bathroom it means they have to go to the bathroom.
Then there are the kids who ask to go to the bathroom every hour on the hour. When they ask to go to the bathroom it means, I want to go for a walk, I am bored, I wonder what is going on in the hallway right now, this work is too hard, or any number of things that have nothing to do with going to the bathroom. These also tend to be the kids who can't afford to miss a chunk of a lesson.
This idea of earning a privilege was really interesting to me. I have been trying to treat my kids as little people, not children. I let them chat in the morning because who doesn't like to check in with their friends in the morning? Teachers are the worst at this - have you ever been to a conference that started on time?!
I let them go to the bathroom whenever they need to because isn't that what most people do? My husband does not have to prove to his boss that he really does have to go to the bathroom. Plus, even if they just need a little brain break, isn't that okay?
Well, I do still believe all these things, but that idea that adults have earned these privileges is something I hadn't thought about before. Teachers and business people have proven that they can get their work done and make choice about what they do in the morning or when they go to the bathroom. I don't walk out in the middle of class and go to the bathroom. I wait until the kids are at recess or lunch.
There are some adults who do have to ask to go to the bathroom while they are at work. (Or if they are going to much, they might be fired.)
The freedom that I enjoy isn't given to me just because I am an adult, it is because I have proven that I can handle it. By giving this to students who haven't earned it, I have been doing them a disservice. I have four students in my class who are currently "Below Standard". I have been doing remediation, scaffolding, tutoring before and after school, and calling home, but am I hurting them by giving them freedom they can't handle?
I try to run my classroom using Love and Logic, but I forgot one important part. I need to treat them as individuals. As much as I don't like the idea of gluing kids to their seats, maybe this is what some kids need. They just aren't mature enough to make the choice to work with their friends on the carpet. Of course, many of my students can handle this and are doing amazingly well.
So, on Monday morning I am going to tell them that our first trimester was a glimpse at how I would like the classroom to run. I don't want kids asking if they can go to the bathroom or get a drink of water etc... But, in the real world you aren't just given this freedom; you have to earn it.
They will earn their freedoms back by showing me that they can think and work productively on their own. Everyone will have to ask to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, sharpen their pencil etc... (Only during instruction time - they can do all of these things at our transition or free times.) I will say yes to the kids who have shown me that they can handle it and no to the kids who have shown me that they can't. It will be the same way with working in groups or working around the classroom.
I think this will be a difficult transition for a lot of the kids, but in the long run I think it will be good for everyone. I am excited to report back in a few weeks.
I just have to remember - treat them as the individuals they are :).
Wow - that was a long post. Thanks for sticking with me!