On Friday, February 5, 2010, the students at my school will celebrate the 100th day of the 2009-2010 school year. The students in my classroom will celebrate their 9th day of school. How can this be? Tuesday, January 26th was the first day of the 2010 school year. I did it. For the first time in my eleven years of teaching, I called a “do-over.”
After another sub-par, highly frustrating Monday, I took up all the students textbooks, had them clean out their desks and cubbies and wished everyone a great winter vacation (albeit, it was only 1 night). I don’t think my students really believed me, but I told them that they had eeked though grade 3.5 and it was now time to start 4th grade. I rearranged desks, changed bulletin boards, revamped our classroom schedule and had a “getting to know you” sheet ready for Tuesday morning. I met each student at the door, introduced myself, and showed them where to sit and find materials. I referred to all the events up until that point as grade 3.5 and we began again. Although, my students really didn’t know what to think, they are adjusting. We reset rules, procedures and expectations. We developed a new set of classroom goals, rewards and consequences. Most of all, we took a moment to clear the slates and start fresh. I would be exaggerating to say that it’s worked beautifully. I will say that 95% of my students took it in the spirit which it was intended and have risen to the challenge.
Because OK isn’t good enough.
At what point would we want our own child’s teacher to say, “They aren’t doing their best, but it’s OK”? Or, “Some of my kids are really missing out on my best because I’m dealing with ‘little’ behaviors all day, but I haven’t written anyone up, so it can’t be that bad”? I had been trying for several weeks to salvage certain parts of what I was doing by tweaking here and there, by trying to implement new things. It wasn’t working. And then I realized…
If my students aren’t getting my best, they might as well be getting my worst.
Pressing the “reset” button on my school was a lot less about my kids than it was about me and my attitude. In reflection, I think it takes a lot of courage and honesty to implement an Operation Mulligan in my classroom. I had to take a step back and start over. I had to clear my own frustrations and personal blocks in order to make room for my students to succeed more. I’m still working on it, of course, but the mental and physical acts of starting fresh are helping a lot. So if you are having “one of those years” or you have “one of those classes”, are you going to suffer through or just survive or hang in there for the next five months? If so, think about what you are doing to yourself and your students.
Filed under: Uncategorized |