Sunday, September 25, 2016

Good Grief Charlie Brown Teacher

The first day of school is what sets the tone for the rest of the year. Did it start something like this?

Make It Count

As a kid growing up, I remember those days in the classroom. I can almost picture the spot on my desk where the drool would puddle up, as I "listened" to the teacher explain for twenty-five minutes who she was, what her classroom rules consisted of - all thirty of them  what her expectations were for us, what would happen if we didn't follow them, how all of our assignments counted -some more than others, wah, wah, wah, wah...the crazy thing is those Charlie Brown days are still occurring in today's classrooms.

Those Charlie Brown days can't exist in our classrooms today. I'll be the first to admit, and it's only taken 18 years, that the procedures, the rules, the million things about me can wait. - we only get ONE first day, ONE day to make that first impression and ONE day to show the kid what we are.

Life is Just A Bunch of Jellybeans

This year my first day was not about rules...not about was about time. It was about the time we would be spending together, the time we would be doing amazing things, the time we would spend  learning about each other and learning about the world we live in.

Did I know their names? No. Did I know their stories? No. Did they know me or my stories? No. That would all come. Right now, day one, I wanted them to know that I valued them, I valued their time, and I valued what was to come with our time together.

I gave each student a jellybean and told them to eat it. I asked them what they tasted - not the flavor, but the taste. Some mentioned their beans were "sweet", "nasty", "gross", "good", etc. I told them that each of these tastes was really a metaphor (quick review of that for kids who didn't know) - it was a metaphor for the moments they've had before this class. They're gone now - we can't bring them back, but we can still taste them, still remember them.

I talked with them about how we would be making good tasting memories. I shared how excited I was that each of them was here, that they all mattered to this classroom, and that we were going to do some really incredible things this year. We watched The Time You Have and I handed each kid a jellybean and a baggie. They placed the bean in their baggie and I had them put them in their locker. I told them we'd be pulling them out the last week of school. I told them to remember that jellybean was there and to remember who gave it to them.

That jellybean was there as a reminder. If they were having a bad day, all they needed to do was pull out the bean and remember why they were here and that they would always have someone there for them.