Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"It's just another manic Monday..."

... and Tuesday!

Things are very busy in the classroom. We started to implement both the reading and math curriculum last week. It is my first time using this math curriculum, so there is a learning curve. While I had been teaching my students math all of the other years, I hadn't been trained or given the district wide early childhood math curriculum or materials. I was finally trained over the summer and picked up the materials a few weeks ago. So far, it seems like I was already implementing many aspects of the curriculum so I am focusing on the parts that are new to me. The materials we have used so far seem to be exciting and actively engaging my students.

Last week was a really rough week emotionally. My kids are dealing with some pretty rough stuff at home and I was working hard as their advocate to clear up confusion with parents and get them the proper services that they need.

Yesterday, Monday, I was startled by their behavior around food. More than half the class came into the classroom in a frenzy. They were desperate to have breakfast, and even though I have assured them several times that everyone can eat at school, my words don't penetrate. Some of the kids became very aggressive and protective around their food. "That's my food, don't take it from me" and other troubling statements. The frenzy died down once everyone who wanted to eat was sitting with a breakfast in front of them. I knew before Monday that many of them are hungry or worry about food but I was still shocked by their aggressive and protective behavior about their breakfast. I hope that their out-of-school situations improve sooner rather than later.

I continue to really struggle with supporting one of my students who has intensive behavioral challenges. I have a behavior plan in place that he seems to respond to, sometimes. I am working on training my para and the other teachers on how to support this student. In addition to attempting to decrease this student's non desirable behaviors, I am working with him and the whole class to build better social skills.

As I write this though, I am optimistic. My principal finally changed the schedule so that it is more consistent. Consistency is an essential ingredient in academic learning and in reducing problematic behaviors. My principal and I have had this same conversation each year. Each year it seems as though he has completely forgotten all of the points I have made to him about this topic. When I got to him and express the need for routines and consistency in the lives of my students, I am not asking for me. I am not asking to have all my prep periods in the morning so I don't have to do any planning on my own. I am asking on the behalf of my students, who do not need more chaos and disorder when they come to school. I am optimistic that a set schedule will help my students adjust. Once they learn the routine, hopefully they will feel less anxious at school and problematic behaviors will sharply decrease.

I must remind myself that it is still early in the school year. This is only my students' fourth full week of school. Things will get better.

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