Hello Friends :)
I am hoping it is okay with you to write a bit about the work I am doing with Positive Discipline in schools... I am a certified elementary school teacher but haven't been in the classroom as a teacher since Rowan was a year old - so it's been a long time!!! I have become really passionate about parent education (as you well know), and as I volunteer in my children's classrooms, I notice more and more how much easier life would be for teachers if they were versed in PD.
Last January I took the Positive Discipline in the Classroom course with an amazing group of teachers from Queen Anne Elementary in Seattle. Sound Discipline and the Positive Discipline Association have classes for teachers coming up in July in Seattle and August in Bothell. If you are an educator reading this blog register for one of these classes!!! They are so powerful and really change the climate of the classroom...
I was fortunate enough to have one of my favorite teachers, Ms. Conte, welcome me into her kindergarten classroom to play with her kids and get them started on classroom meetings. Classroom meetings are the cornerstone of PD in the classroom and in order for me to be able to teach this goodness to teachers, I need to practice what I want to preach...
I am so grateful that I had the chance to get to know these incredible kids!!! Most were ELL, all were adorable. In the beginning, we practiced giving compliments. The kids would sit in a circle at the front of the classroom and we would go around and share something nice that we noticed about another person. This was tricky in the beginning, especially for the new language learners, but over time they really got the hang of it.
After the compliments, we would spend time building the classroom community. We started off exploring what we needed to do to make the rest of the school year the best one ever. Here is what they decided:
My favorite idea was "give high fives" because who doesn't love high fives???
Then we spent time talking about what mutual respect is. Mutual respect is respecting others and respecting ourselves. We talked about how that means that if someone is hurting our feelings, we respect ourselves by speaking up and letting them know how they are making us feel. We talked about how it is okay to say no to a friend when they want to play something that we don't want to play - that is respecting ourselves. We also came up with many ways that we show respect to other people.
The kids also explore the idea that they were in class to be helpful and not hurtful. I challenged Ms. Conte to ask the kids, "Is that helpful or hurtful?" when she noticed a conflict during class time. The idea is the allow the kids to begin to experience solution based, respectful problem solving - rather than the tattle tale/punishment for mistakes model that is often used in families and classrooms. Here are the posters that they decorated and hung in their classroom to remind them of what they were learning:
We spent one meeting playing with the idea of a "win/win solution." The kids cracked up at my stick figure drawing but soon came up with lots of scenarios in which a win/win solution would work for them.
I taught the kids how to use Bugs and Wishes. They practices approaching each other saying "It bugs me when___ and I wish ___." The reports I got back from Ms. Conte in the days that followed this lesson were that the kids were enthusiastically embracing this dialogue. They were solving problems without involving the teacher and, most importantly, were being respectful and helpful. YAY!
The class meetings have slowly evolved to include an agenda book where the kids write down when they have a problem they need help solving. Eventually, these are to be student lead, with little to no input from the teacher. Empowering, huh? What do kids do when they are feeling empowered? When they feel as though they belong to a group and are significant??? They act in a way that is cooperative and kind, and are more than ready to learn!!!
And what did the kids think about all of this? Well, they made me a book, and the title says it all... Its called: THANK YOU CASEY FOR HELPING US BE BEST FRIENDS!
Check it out -
Huge thanks to Jessica Conte and her kindergartners for allowing me to come in a take over on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons! Nothing beats the unconditional love of 5 year olds!!!