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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What are we teaching kids if they don't have consequences?

This will be a long post that is not politics, it's a different soapbox altogether. ;) Before I begin, I do want to clarify that this post is not directed at any one person or group of people. My children have had amazing teachers and we have been nothing but impressed with all of the growth they've made each year. I just didn't want anyone to think this post was written directed toward them, because it's not. 

Recently, it has been a big trend to move away from behavior management systems such as clip charts, Class Dojo, etc. I have been working on wrapping my head around this but am struggling to do so. For a brief moment, a few years ago, I almost did but then I dug into some research and reevaluated that notion. I understand the idea of shaming kids is not appropriate. I don't support that and I can't imagine doing such. I don't know anyone who does. I do believe that consistent consequences are important to teach for a number of reasons. Let's talk about those... First and foremost, can I apologize to my third grade classes for my awful behavior management? When I started teaching 12 years ago, we were in the age of cards and flipping them. I, like multiple others, had this system in my classroom. I'd have a kid flip a card, they'd get upset, I'd make them promise to make a better choice if I let them flip their card back, they'd flip back, the cycle would continue. My classroom was a ZOO. I hope and pray those kids were able to learn something in the chaos of my classroom. It was no fault of their own, but the kids quickly realized that I wasn't consistent with expectations and they had no real consequences due to that. Parents would come to conferences and have no idea behavior was an area of concern because I WAS NOT consistent in communicating it. In my third year, I moved to first grade and quickly realized that I needed to up my consistency. I felt that I had spent all of my time correcting behavior and waiting for kids to meet the expectations that I had set but not maintained, which again was no fault of their own and the fact is we have to much to do in a day to use so much time on a system that wasn't working.

My first year of first grade, I worked very hard on setting up a structured classroom and being consistent. I couldn't believe it....the kids listened and my classroom was so much more successful! The kids knew what the expectation was and understood what it meant when that expectation wasn't met. I'm not claiming it was a walk in the park, but it was SO much easier. I don't believe in public humiliation but I do believe that it is important to teach kids that every action has a consequence, whether that be good or bad.. I believe in positive reinforcement and use it. I use the idea that I have learned after the years of PD from PBIS of 4 to 1 for positive interactions. I actually try my hardest to have more of a 8 to 1 ratio. I view behavior in the same way I view all of the things I teach my students. We make a mistake and we learn from it, we don't just not address it and keep making the same mistakes. I personally use Class Dojo and love it. I have only had one or two parent complaints about the system in the 4 years I've been using it. Other than that, parents love the constant communication and the fact they can see how their kids are doing during the day.  I teach my students that we don't worry about the points of others and we don't talk about them. We are only focused on our own choices and points. 

My class also uses a belt system where I add a belt to their monsters on Friday depending on the points they've earned that quarter. At the end of each quarter, my class holds an auction where they cash in their points on "treasures" (I'm sure parents would agree ;)) and the points start again the next quarter. This helps the kids to set a goal for how many points they want to earn so they can "cash" them in for the next auction. Even the students with the lowest amounts of points are so happy to see their hard work pay off. We are entering an era where we highlight the effort and the mindset it takes to meet goals. We are highlighting work from students that shows effort in action. Why do we treat behavior so differently?

Here's the thing, the talk is always about the feelings of entitlement this generation of kids feels. If we take away consequences, aren't we just reiterating that there isn't a need to have responsibility for our actions? As with anything we teach, certain kids need modifications or an individualized approach. Currently, I have a student begging me to re-instate the behavior check sheet he had at his old school because "it helped him make good choices".  We have to take into account that certain students have home lives that are more difficult than others, which I think all the teachers I know do take into consideration. The fact is simple...consequences are a part of life. If we are trying to prepare our students for the real world, how can we expect them to do well if they never have any negative consequences? Think about your job, does your boss just stop giving you positive reinforcement when you've done something against the rules? I'm going to guess, no. Take a minute and think... when kids are making appropriate choices, they earn positive reinforcement, whatever that may be. If they are making poor choices, what will they learn if there is no consequence?  Isn't it our responsibility to help them learn how to be responsible for not only their learning but their behavior?

There is rhetoric that says just having conversations with kids about poor choices is enough and that behavior systems aren't needed. What in the world? Of course, I have conversations with my students and talk about what to change the next time. Also, I'd like to add I know how many siblings each of my students has, what they like to do for fun, what motivates them, and how they feel about school, among other things. Having a behavior management plan is not hindering my relationship with my students. I find that to be more insulting than anything.

I am also a parent. I am that annoying parent who will ask you a million questions about a situation, just so I know how to discuss it with my children. I have two kids as different as they can possibly be. Chase, my oldest, came home from kindergarten one day refusing to show me his folder (obviously I knew he had something to hide) thinking he'd had a note written in it (he didn't). I dug deeper and found out he had been talking after the teacher told him not to. I am the crazy parent who said, "Good! I am glad he felt bad about it!" I am not heartless but I think he needed to learn, if his teacher tells him to stop talking, he needs to stop talking. He knew he shouldn't talk after being told not to, but in his mind what he had to say was just that important. Therefore, I fully supported the consequence he received. The other day, he "forgot" some homework and begged me to go get it from his classroom the morning it was due. I told him no, again not heartless, just realistic, because how in the world would that teach him to be responsible now or later in life? I told him he had chosen to forget the work (which has been a lifelong battle) so he had chosen to accept the consequence.  Now, let's look at my younger child. Time will tell with this one, but I have an inkling that focus is not his friend. He is only four so it's not something we are too worried about now, but we will address it if necessary once he enters kindergarten. He can be impulsive, loud, and play hard. I fully expect that his teacher puts him in time-out or whatever other behavior system she uses because I WANT him to learn that it is not okay to do things he is asked not to. On the flip side, four year olds are not great problem solvers and understandably so. When he is kicked, hit, bit, etc., I thoroughly expect the child who impulsively did so to have some sort of consequence. If they don't,  how are they truly learning it is not okay to do such? 

If you made it this far, I'm super impressed and happy you let me get that off my chest. Okay, back to reading all of the political posts and Dirty Dancing lip readings.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Have you heard of MindUp?

This year I had a great class, but they struggled to keep their focus if not constantly being stimulated. As you can imagine, this made for a difficult first quarter. I was at my wit's end and began ordering anything I could find on active listening, whole body listening, that's when I ran across the MindUp Curriculum. If I am being honest, I wasn't sure I bought into it at first. No offense to Goldie Hawn at all, but I was curious as to what she might bring to education. Boy, was I wrong! If you are sitting here thinking, what in the world are you talking about? Click the picture to take you to the Hawn Foundation website to learn more about what MindUp is.


First, I must stress how important the setup is. I fought the urge to rush through and get cracking with the meat of the curriculum, but that's when I realized the setup (Unit I) is the most important. The simple act of Core Breathing is so important. This is one of the things I wasn't sure I bought in to. I worried that parents would be upset that I was having their child "meditate" (though it is never called that in the book) in class. Well, here's the thing..... the book explains how your brain works and processes information, therefore, when Core Breathing, the kids genuinely understand how/why it is helping them focus. I'm not claiming that this is the end all/be all and all of your behavior/focus issues will be gone. My class still had struggles and there were behavior problems but they understand why they sometimes made the choices they did. For example, one of my kiddos had to speak with a principal about a behavior choice he had made. She was having him complete a think sheet detailing the choice. When she asked him why he chose this behavior, he responded, "Well, my amygdala sent the wrong message to my prefrontal cortex! I have to work on making sure it sends the right message!" She immediately called me and tell me that she was blown away that a second grader could comprehend such a thing. That was when I knew it was working! If you haven't checked it out, you should. Believe me, coming from a skeptic to a believer, it will change your world! 

The book has great resources included, but I have made some extensions/supplemental activities to go with it. You can find by clicking on the picture below:

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Check Out These ADORABLE Shirts!

I received the most amazing item EVER! This amazing t-shirt from A+ Images .

First off, the artists who created this shirt did a phenomenal job. It looks exactly like the image I sent when I ordered the shirt. I was contacted within a couple of days to discuss the color and how it would all look when it was done. The artist was friendly and asked for my input on the font. Then, I was sent a preview of the design before it was printed. 

I couldn't have asked for better service!!! It turned out better than I could have ever imagined. It was created and shipped SUPER fast.  I have bought many shirts from this company and get complaints constantly. If you are looking for a new teacher shirt, you need to check them out! Not only can they custom make shirts, they have pre-designed shirts that are just as adorable! I've put some of my favorite ones below:
Be sure to check them out for yourself!!!     

You can find a shirt for almost anything you can imagine! Just click the link to look around for yourself. Teacher Shirts by A+ Images

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Check Out These Amazing Second Grade Teachers!

New Friends to Follow!

Each month, I will share another amazing second grade teacher, right here on my blog. In all honesty, I was supposed to start last month but somehow my emails weren't going to my inbox so I am showcasing TWO teachers for this month. 

Meet Lisa! She's the first featured 2nd grade blogger this month. She is the blogger behind Second Grade Stories (a wonderful place with many valuable products and information) and is also a seller on TpT. You should definitely visit her store also called Second Grade Stories, which is full of amazing nonfiction mini units, holiday and literacy activities.
Lisa's adorable Squirrel-Nonfiction Mini Unit is something you need in your life.  It's over 60 pages of great resources and materials that will keep your students engaged!  You'd be NUTS (hehe) not to get this great resource for this crazy, low price!

You MUST go to her store and check out this amazing bundle. It incorporates QR codes which the kids just LOVE. While you are there, be sure to check out all of the other incredible resources she has available in her store.
Click the picture to go to her store to find this bundle.

Please be sure to check out these two teachers and check back next month to see who is up next!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tpt Seller Challenge Week #2

I'm working hard on getting caught up on my TpT Seller Challenge so here's my second blog post in one day!! I'm feeling inspired. The challenge for the second week was to blog about your dreams for TpT and how it fits into your life. 

My first dream is to pay off my student loans.  I just got under $30,000 left and I was ridiculously excited. Well, that is until I figured out that I would pay off my loan at just about the time that my son would be entering college.  If I just had that extra month every month, my life would change drastically. 

Next, I would LOVE to take my boys to Disney World. I have never been myself but I always hear about people who take their kids there and it's the memory a lifetime. I have also heard it takes a lot of money to go there. If we were to go, I'd want to be in a place that I wouldn't have to worry about only doing certain things due to lack of funds. 

My third dream and fourth dream go hand in hand. In life, I worry about EVERYTHING. I have gotten better with age but one of my biggest worries continues to be money, bills, and making sure that my kids have all of the things they need. I will say that I am lucky. We have money to live in our home, pay our bills, and buy food BUT if we had more disposable income, that would be great. I would love to pay off the credit card we have, say good bye to our car payments, and just be able to breathe easier when it comes to money. I'm hoping to get to that place someday with TpT. 

TpT Seller's Challenge Week #1

I spent the last week in Orange Beach, AL and had a wonderful time. It was just what my family needed to get re-centered. It's amazing how therapeutic a week away can be! We rented a condo that we shared with my husband's brother, his wife, and their kids. It worked out perfectly. There was just enough for us to enjoy our time together but feel like we had privacy.

My 2 year old absolutely loved playing in the sand, while my 9 year old enjoyed splashing around in the ocean. I did my mommy duties of playing in the ocean, though I was secretly terrified of the sharks that were lurking around. While we were there 2 were spotted! We did a lot of fun touristy things like visiting the zoo, going to the arcade, and eating at A LOT of great restaurants.

We all had so much fun but it's good to be back home. When I got back, I noticed this awesome TpT Seller Challenge hosted by Sparkling in Second, Teach Create Motivate, Third in Hollywood , and Peppy Zesty Teacherista. It was just the motivation I needed! I have wanted to revamp some products for awhile now. What a great way to start!  I started with one of my very first products. This challenge helped me transform it into almost a brand new product!!  I'm excited to share it!

My Back to School pack has been begging me for a makeover and that's just what I did! I've made changes on every single page and I love it!! 
 Check it out by clicking the picture above!

Here's another look. Below you will find the original product:

Now....*drumroll* it is: NEW AND IMPROVED!!! 

On to completing Week 2's challenge!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Welcome to My Blog Kickoff!! My blog has been sitting lonely and ready to go for almost 3 months. It's time to get it into gear and start my blogging adventure. You get to reap the benefits of this new adventure! Enter the Rafflecopters below for your chance at some AMAZING prizes!

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Good luck! I hope you visit again!