If you have taught or worked with children in any capacity, you know that full moon fever is a real thing. Prior to the full moon, energy levels rise and with rising energy comes the increase of impulsive behaviors and general inattention. I'm going to go ahead and blame last Friday on the full harvest moon. Today was a fantastic day but it didn't just happen. Here is what I did to get our class back on track.
First, remember that young boy who had me feeling deflated? I met with him first thing this morning. We spoke for a short time about the day he had on Friday and the impact it had on him. As impulsive and inattentive as he is, he is a very reflective child who shares his thinking and who always gives me the impression that he is sincere. To start our conversation I acknowledged a few of the things I notice him doing well. He is a very confident and engaged mathematician who stays tuned in during instruction and who doesn't hesitate to get his voice in the room. I acknowledged this very real strength. Next, I reflected on how focused he is during #classroombookaday. I thanked him for always being so willing to make and share out the connections that he makes between the literature and our lives. I told him that kids pipe up in their seats when he shares his observations. This is true. No embellishment here! Next, I talked about the fact that this kiddo is bilingual. In a short amount of time, he has learned English! In fact, his conversational English is so good that I'd never suspect that English wasn't his first language. I shared my own struggles with second language acquisition. He really seemed to absorb the fact that I know he is smart and that I think he is already accomplished.
Then, we talked about his struggles. He acknowledged that learning to read and write in English is hard work. We also acknowledged that paying attention and fighting his impulsivity is also really hard. It made sense to both of us that it would be hardest for him to focus and give a good effort when he is being asked to do something that is truly hard like reading or writing. I shared some of the behaviors I had noticed and also shared how the behaviors were impacting me and some of his classmates. For example, I sometimes had a hard time keeping my train of thought when he was making noises, or chatting, or rolling around, or squirming. He seemed to understand my concerns. Then we talked about the kind of things he could do when he was feeling fidgety or frustrated. I told him that I believe in him and I asked if it would be okay if we checked in with each other at the end of the day to talk about how the day went.
Honestly, he wasn't perfect. He told a girl who is working so hard to make social connections that she stunk at soccer. This was pretty terrible because it probably took every fiber of her being to join that soccer game. I can't explain why he does things like that . However, he made a very real effort to have a better day in class. During the Daily CAFE he put noise reducing headphones on and read a good fit book. This is HUGE. Generally, he sits in the inflatable chair (ya know, before it became deflated) with a thick book in his hands and makes little effort to even fake read. Today, he made an effort. It was a much better day.
I'm not crazy or naive or so optimistic to think that our five minute conversation had a life-altering impact on him. I know we have tons of work ahead of us. I sense it won't be easy work. I'm committed though. Today was a better day. I'll take it.
Here's the thing: my class had a bad day on Friday, in addition to this one child's indiscretions, we had a bad day. I had spent the weekend pouring over some of their math assignments...I even blogged about them. On Monday, I shared their work and what I had observed. or actually, hadn't been able to observe. We looked at the work together. With their help, I modeled what the work should have looked like. We brainstormed lots of ways that the students could SHOW what they were thinking and the math processes that were happening in their heads. We worked together so that they could share the strategies that had allowed them to solve problems.
I told my students that I had some good and bad news for them. I told them that I'd never give up on them. I told them that when they give me work that doesn't seem to be equal to their potential, they';; get another chance to try the work. Ya, that's right. They'd be retrying this assignment. Then, I asked them to post before and after photos in SeeSaw. I asked them to write a caption to explain the two pieces and what they illustrated.
Today was a better day. Those captions, in a addition to the change in behavior of that student who may or may not have deflated my chair, gave me a little bit of hope. I know we'll have more bad days. i know that there will be LOTS of average days. But I'm holding out for another awesome day.