Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The First Days...

Over the summer, we started reading some very interesting blogs that talked about behavior management in the classroom.  We previously used a “bee chart” in our classes, and I’m sure you have seen, or you may have seen something similar.  Each child had a bee and when they made a choice that was respectful, responsible, or safe, we would move their bee up to blue and then to purple.  End their day on purple, and they would get to pick a prize from the prize box.  On the other hand, make poor choices that were not respectful, responsible, or safe, and their bee would move down the rainbow to yellow, orange, and eventually red.  End their day on red, and they would have to take a note home to be signed.  We had been using this system for quite some time now and really knew something needed to change.  You typically have the same kiddos always getting their bee moved down, and the same kids always getting their bee moved up in a public display.  While we had hoped that adding the colors blue and purple we would focus more on the positives, we still found the negatives were getting more attention.  I won’t really go into too much more detail about the systems we used, but I do encourage you to take a look at the blogs referenced in the beginning of this paragraph.  I will tell you it was amazingly eye opening.  With that said, here’s what happened on the first days of school.

I don't know about y'all, but the first few days of the school year are always crazy in our world!  You never know what's going to happen.  Especially in Kindergarten!  Some of the kiddos have never been in school, some are leaving their parents for the first time, and some are so ready for school that they blow you away with their maturity at five years old.  Well, this year was no exception.  We invited our kindergarten families in for a "Brave-On-My-First-Day" breakfast, followed by a story and lots of hugs, kisses, and tears.  This initial portion of our day was pretty much the same way it has been for the past 10 years. . . and then EVERYTHING changed.

I can't even begin to tell you how difficult it was the first day to bite my tongue when those typical "annoying" behaviors started to come out.  Yelling out, wanting to play instead of listen, wandering the classroom.... So here's what was the most difficult thing of the whole day:  Letting go of those behaviors and letting the students take control of their learning environment.  I cannot stress to you how mentally draining the day was!  Every few minutes, I would catch myself about to redirect a child for lying on the carpet rather than sitting up, or wanting to sit at the back of the classroom while I was giving instructions by the SmartBoard.  I had to constantly remind myself that just because they weren't physically where most of their peers were didn't mean that they weren't listening!  One adorable child was lying on the floor with a pillow over his head for most of the morning and was still able to complete all of his tasks for the day without any struggle from me or from him!  He ended his day feeling great, not beaten down, so I say that’s a SUCCESS!!  It’s just the beginning, and yes, it is difficult to retrain our brains, but it’s easier for the kids.  And after all, isn’t that what our focus should be?  Lifting them up, not tearing them down.  Alright Monday...bring it on!