Sunday, April 22, 2012

Watch Your Mouth

My ears have been very sensitive to parents using an ugly, hateful tone of voice with their children lately. Is this happening more or am I just noticing it more??

Either way, it is unacceptable to belittle, yell, curse, or otherwise verbally abuse children. Of course, we know better than to beat our kids, but what about the hurtful words we use? Aren't they just as damaging?  

Recently on a family trip to Washington, D.C. a mother yelled, and I mean seriously yelled, at her 10ish year old daughter, "Aisha!! Who the F#(@ you rollin' with?!?!" Her daughter had done what so many tired, travel-weary children do and kind of attached herself to our group as we walked by. They were about to head in the same direction and she just meandered down the sidewalk near us. My ears stung as those hurtful words lingered in the air. I watched Aisha trudge back towards her family and my heart went out to her. There was no need to yell at her, and certainly dropping an F-bomb in the middle of the National Zoo was completely inappropriate.

At a recent baseball game, a father threw his hat to the ground, raised his arms and basically had a grown-up tantrum when his 8 year old made an honest mistake in not running after a ball was caught and then dropped. That was the final play of the game and as they left the field my husband and I feared that the boy was actually going to be beaten by the father right there on the field. The boy was in tears and my husband and I called out to stop the 'show' from escalating. The dad scooped the boy into his arms and laughed it all off as if nothing had happened.

Children are children. They are not little adults. I've worked with plenty of kids over the years to know that serious harm is done when voices are raised. You affect every child in the area when you use harsh words, NOT just the child you've targeted. It takes time to build relationships and inconsiderate, disrespectful words damage those relationships - sometimes irreparably. 

Have I slipped and raised my voice at children? Absolutely. It is something I think everyone must struggle with from time to time. We are human. We get frustrated, annoyed, irritated. Sometimes children do things at precisely the wrong moment when we are at our weakest. It is difficult to be on your A-game at all times. Effort must be made, however, to watch our mouths. Not just what we say, but how we say it. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I (mostly) hate sports.

     Anyone who knows me knows that I do not like sports. I have lots of reasons, but I think mainly I don't like being disappointed after getting emotionally invested in a game. Also I have a lot of resentment towards professional athletes who make millions of dollars for doing something that isn't nearly as important to our society as teaching children to read, write, count, and think. Call me selfish. 
     Here comes the big confession....I've learned so much from watching my kids at practices and in games. Just because I don't enjoy sports doesn't mean that I want to deprive my own children from developing athletic talents if that's what they enjoy. So I've spent quite a few hours watching karate, baseball, soccer, basketball, and tennis even though my kids are only 5 and 8 years old.
     I blogged about the fantastic karate instructors my son had awhile back and this recent post by Lori Sabo from The Daily 5 website reminded me of the amazing things I've learned from watching coaches. Sabo's main points include:

  1. positive reinforcement - who doesn't like a kind word or a wink or a smile??
  2. modeling - show the right & wrong way
  3. monitoring - keep an eye on your students
  4. differentiation - meet your students where they are and push them farther
  5. purpose - explain why 
  6. element of fun - people (big and little) like games
  7. celebration - verbalize what was accomplished
  8. current research - be smart, keep up with your field
     Of these 8 elements, I think differentiation is the most difficult, especially if you're working in the Land of the Little People (K or 1st grade) where attention spans and self-direction are in short supply. However, the other 7 things on the list are EASY. 
     I've noticed in the last month as I've included frequent games, dance breaks, and increased eye contact that my class has soared. I'm working with a population that is mostly ELL, mostly poor, and mostly behind academically - but they have risen to the occasion EVERY time I've challenged them. I'm checking off 1. positive reinforcement, 3. monitoring, 5. purpose, 6. fun, and 7. celebration from the list above. Woot!
     As for 2. modeling...I am fortunate to work at a school that hit the technology jackpot. We all received Hover cams in our classrooms last month and let me tell you that it is a blessing! My students struggle with oral directions. Their language skills are weak, but if I show them on the big screen what I'm talking about they jump right in. So there's a big check for modeling. 
     8. Current research? Got it. Thanks to my PLN on Twitter I've read a couple of great books lately, but have also been exposed to lots of amazing ideas through a variety of chats. 
     4. Differentiation here I come! This is my first year teaching 1st graders and I'm still working on the management issues that arise with 20 busy little people. I've just begun to scratch the surface in teaching self-motivation and self-direction. 
     Maybe I'll get some good ideas at baseball practice tonight??

Sunday, April 15, 2012

To Facebook, or Not To Facebook

Guess who woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? And so here is where I take out my frustrations on Facebook and some of its users. Look away while you can...I'm warning may dislike this post.

One of my biggest gripes is that because of Facebook's ever-changing settings I cannot adequately control what shows up on my timeline. Last year I began 'friending' former students and I love that I can keep in touch with them. The problem is that they fill my page with their adolescent-ness. Bless their hearts - I love 'em, but daggone it I DO NOT want to grow tomatoes, collect weapons, or earn jewels in any way shape or form. I'm also not going to click "Like" to see how I'll die or who I'll marry or to find out how to kiss. (When I was a  kid we handled all this business in person or with paper notes that went only to a handful of people.)

Related to the student problem is the fact that when I comment on anyone's status, depending on how they've set their privacy, anyone may be able to see the comment and the original post. This is highly suspect to me. I do not post controversial pictures or status updates, however I sometimes comment on friends who do. I do not like relying on others to protect the privacy of my comments. Because I'm friends with students they may see my comments and thus the original, possibly inappropriate posts. Not good.

I have too many 'friends' on Facebook whose daily business I do not care to know about. I wish Facebook was more like Twitter so that people who wanted to see my posts could see them, but in return I wouldn't be subjected to their posts - unless I chose to be. And yes, I am aware that I can 'hide' people, but that only works from my lappy and I generally check Facebook through my phone.....arrrgghhh....another reason to be features on the mobile version.

I am irritated by people who post updates that are cryptic and clearly meant for a limited audience. Such as, 'Great time last night! I can't believe we got in.' Get a clue - that's a message for a limited audience, not a status update. I get irritated when I read posts about an event that excluded me. I feel irritated in general looking at the silly stuff people post. I do not care what you had for dinner unless it's something special or different. BTW, pot roast at home doesn't qualify unless you never cook and Bobby Flay visited your home to personally cook your dinner. 

I'm not a Grammar Goddess, but the daily barrage of spelling & grammar errors irritates me. 

Or how about the posts that ask you to pray for someone and yet the post doesn't say why or what's up. What if some of these prayer requests could be answered if the person was more specific?? Like, "Pray for my friend she has a rare form of hair cancer"...and then whatdya know I have a best friend who just happens to specialize in hair cancer research?? Instead of praying for your friend I could actually hook her up with a person or resources here on earth that could help her.

So, step one is to go on a Facebook Fast. For the next week starting NOW I will not log into or otherwise check Facebook. From there I'll decide whether to resume my relationship with it or to delete it all together.