. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: March 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fluent in What?

Today was reading fluency testing day in my room. 

Fourth grade readers, start your engines!

I heard the story of a family vacation to ride The Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls about 120 times today. 

Although, sometimes the family went to Nigeria Falls. 
Sometimes they went to Nigara Falls. 
Sometimes it was Nijeera Falls. 
And one time it was Nicaragua Falls. 

Sometimes they were on vacation. 
Sometimes vaccination. 

And although the family was there to ride The Maid of the Mist, a couple of times they rode The Mind of the Mist. 
One time it was The Maid of the Mints. 

And Nigeera Fills is a neutral wonder. 

Oh well, Spring Break started at 10:54 today!

Or is it Sping Bake?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

So, one of our kiddos was a terror.


He was caustic.
He was lazy.
He was mouthy.
He refused to work.
He disturbed others.

I don't know what happened. We spent an enormous amount of time working with him, encouraging him, giving him a safe place to be at recess and reinforcing the behaviors we wanted to see. His parents have also consistently been giving him ADHD medication.

I don't know if it's one of these things or all of these things, but he has been behaving like a great kid kid, working harder in class than anyone else and has been for months now. Even when he forgets his medication, he's goofy but manageable. We tell him every day how proud of him we are. I tell him that he's my hero. Changes like that are not easy.

Well, today one of our student teachers from earlier this year was at school today subbing for another teacher. When she was working with our 4th graders, he made her life hell. I'm surprised she became a teacher after dealing with him.

He walked right up to her and said, "Hi Miss Walsh. Guess what? I'm a new kid now!"

And he is!

I'm so glad he knows it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Communication Breakdown

I wish I were a better communicator under pressure. 

Take, for example, an upset parent. (Take them, please!)

I wish I were the kind of person who could put that person at ease; reassure them and convince them that I am open to hearing what they have to say. Let's have a dialogue! But angry parents don't always seem to want that, so communication feels more like confrontation. 

Honestly parents, I understand wanting an answer to your questions or concerns. I want you to understand my motivation or reason for doing what I do, and that I am always coming from a place of caring for your child. I am not afraid or ashamed to apologize when I've made a mistake. I make them all the time! 

But maybe I begin feeling like angry, upset parents are questioning my commitment to serving them and their children in the right manner? Maybe that throws me off? 

One thing I do know about me is that, in my life outside school, I am one who fights back when confronted. That is certainly not who I want to be at school though, and I am concious of that and work very hard to counteract that tendency of mine when I am at school. Does squashing my initial instinct to fight back send me into a tailspin?

In any event, it doesn't take long for me to become a blathering fool, fumbling to explain things and gesticulating all over the place. I rarely feel like a truly upset parent leaves feeling any better after talking to me. 

How do you learn to stay cool and use the right words to defuse tension? 

I know, I know. Some parents can't be placated. They just want to unleash their anger. That's not all of them though. Not even the majority. 

How do I become a better communicator under pressure? 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Unrelated, but Relatable

I'm going to tell you two short stories that will seemingly have nothing in common.

Story #1
I have been teaching my kids about fractions. They have struggled to understand the concept of what a fraction is and where to place them on a number line. We spent days and days on it, and we finally ended the math topic with most of them having a very tenuous grasp on fractions.

The End

Story #2
One of our male students got pantsed today at school. For those of you not in the know, that means some other kid pulled down his pants. It happened on the playground, no less, at the height of lunch recess. How horrifying for him! We called in witnesses to tell the whole, sordid tale and the bully who did it was given an appropriate consequence.

The End

Oh! I forgot to tell you how these stories are connected.

One of the witnesses was my math student. When asked to describe if she saw skin or underwear when the pants were pulled down, she said:

"I saw about 2/4 skin."

Proud teaching moment?

Lil' bit.

If only she'd put that fraction into simplest form…