Saturday, April 16, 2016

My Journey of Reflective Practice Begins....

Spring has sprung.
The grass has riz.
I wonder where
the class I knew is....

Just before spring break I recognized that both my students and I were in desperate need of a break.  Their behaviour was rapidly going downhill and my patience was wearing thin.

I decided to become more pro-active rather than reactive.  These little six and seven year-olds deserved my best.  By golly, that's what they were going to get.

This meant I had to unpack some emotional baggage.  I was becoming increasingly frustrated with what I was witnessing in many families.  I didn't understand decisions they were making.

Then it hit me.  I was looking at their lifestyle through a lens tinted with the values that I grew up with and still reside within me.  I needed to change that lens, at least when judging or interacting with these families.  My values are an important part of who I am, but they are not their values.  I had to respect that.  There would still be moments of frustration, and that is what this blog, my reflection journal, is for.  It will be a place to examine the events of the day.  What went well?  What was frustrating?  How did I deal with that frustration?  What are some things I could try next time?

One student I have been struggling with had a bad day.  He did not engage with the literacy support teacher and spoke to her in a loud voice using negative talk.  He left the room without letting an adult know and took items from the snack tray without permission.  I followed him and reminded him that he needed to ask before leaving the room or taking items from the snack tray.  His behaviour was not okay.  I was frustrated mostly by his rudeness to another adult who was trying so hard to work with him.

A plan was made.  Hall passes were created.  When he needs to leave (or an adult thinks he needs to leave) he takes a pass and can take a short walk.  Expectations were discussed with him.  This would be implemented on a trial basis.  I admit that before I reached this breaking point I would have been reluctant to let a grade one wander the halls.  In fact, I confess to uncharitable thoughts towards teachers who let there students do so.  Now, I was willing to try anything.  He wasn't doing work in class anyway, so the reality was he wasn't going to miss much anyway.  This was the first shift in  my thinking.  I moved from "He is capable so he will do this work before I grant him any privileges" to "He will not demonstrate his potential until he is ready to and disciplinary measures won't change that."

As the plan wasn't going to be introduced until the next day, the remainder of the day was chaos.  He disappeared from another class, resulting in a search by another adult.  After school his mother (pregnant with her fourth child.....seventh in the blended family) was over 30 minutes late.  He had been instructed by his big sister to remain on the playground to wait for their mother while she was in an after school playground.  Instead he wandered thew halls, shouting and kicking his backpack until he was eventually ushered out.

I have opinions about bringing another child in the world when you can't adequately feed or otherwise care for existing children but I managed to keep these thoughts to myself.  I did wait for the mother and reinforced how important it was to pick her children up on time.  She said she had a plan and I simply pointed out that it hadn't worked so maybe other arrangements needed to be made.

I reminded myself that this mother is doing the best that she can.  She is overwhelmed.  Yes, that situation is of her own making but, again,  I am looking at her life choices through my lens.  All I can do is find ways to support her (and retain what little of my own sanity that is left) so that these children have the best chance possible to become productive, happy citizens as adults.  

Tomorrow is a new day


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