September 5, 2009

I teach for moments like this

After the crying at my desk episode last night, today was better. :) I am falling asleep (actually, I have already fallen asleep, on my friend's couch, and been woken up and sent home, and am now falling asleep again...). However, I want to share a few highlights of my day. Now, it was still a stressful day (as they all are), and I did have to yell a little about not talking during a test and a firedrill (yes, we had both today. lucky us...). But what I'm remembering as I think back about the day are these moments:

1. I noticed a student who is very into graphic novels was reading a Garfield comic book during independent reading. I have no problem with graphic novels or comic books, but I think we need some regular text mixed in there too, don't you? Anyways, I called him over to my desk and asked what the last novel he read was. He told me a couple of graphic novels, and I shared my thoughts with him about variety. He told me that he had read Holes by Louis Sacher, and that it was his favorite book. I immediately brought him over to the reading center and pulled two other books by the same author: There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom and Sideways Stories from Wayside School. He thought both sounded good, brought them back to his desk, and decided on Sideways. About 10 minutes later, he came up to me and said, "Hey, Miss Teacher, this book's good!" I teach for moments like this.

2. A student with whom I've been engaged in a power struggle for the past week (his mom and I are already practically great friends) has been noticing how I made puzzle pieces from a Simpsons puzzle into magnets for my whiteboard. The magnets are small and only show tiny bits of Simpsons characters, but this guy spotted Bart's legs immediately. He has been asking me if I had the extra puzzle pieces all week, and today I pulled them out of my desk drawer. After explaining to him that, because I had made some pieces into magnets, it was an incomplete puzzle, he was still asking if he could have some. Then, my aHa! moment of the day occurred.
Me: If you get no check marks for the day, I will give you a puzzle piece to keep. Deal?
T: Deal!
And guess what. NO CHECK MARKS. I thought it was impossible. This kid shaped up to earn one lousy piece of a puzzle with Lisa Simpson's face on it? Man, I'll buy a 1,000 piece Simpsons puzzle if this will help! *Fingers Crossed that the motivation continues next week*
I teach for moments like this.

3. I had three students this week who missed multiple hw assignments. As is my rule, I kept them in 10 minutes at recess to "strategize" a way to get their assignments done on time. Our conversation was fabulous. All three students supplied ideas for both themselves and each other. One even stated that having their parents sign their reading logs each month was their responsibility, not their parents' responsibility, because it was not their parents' reading log. I wished I had a big gold star to give him. :) I teach for moments like this.

4. I gave a short writing "quiz" today related to our shared reading selection of the week. All I asked was for the students to write a short paragraph about a mistake they had made. As I was skimming through them tonight, two of my students who are not my strongest writers did truly exceptional jobs. Just reading that little paragraph made me so proud of them and so excited about the possibilities that lay before us this year to continue developing as writers. I teach for moments like this.

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