Thursday, January 25, 2018

Progress Reports, Safety, and the "I Care About You" Talk

One thing led to another and then we arrived at the yearly safety talk--safety in all kinds of venues that students should be aware of. Some do not talk safety because they worry that they'll frighten children, yet I believe children at fifth grade are ready to learn how to keep themselves safe in lots of situations. It's a time in their lives before lots of the distractions that adolescence brings, distractions that can challenge a child's good decision making. Therefore when the opportunity arises to focus on some issues of safety, I take that opportunity seriously.

Also completing report cards last night made me think a lot about how I can help each child. There are some who are more of a puzzle than others, so I made a little time to talk to those puzzling students today. One question I asked was, If you were your own teacher how would you handle yourself as a student? Putting themselves in the teacher's position caused a pause and a new way to think about their behavior and needs in the classroom. It gave me a chance to think about them with the lens of their ability to metacognate and think about themselves from a distance. For some that's easier than others.

I thought too about the rat race that school sometimes becomes as we move quickly to complete one task after another, and that fact that in that fast motion we might let some important conversations and corrections go. Sometimes that might be just right, but it's not right all the time--we have to slow down particularly when students demonstrate a greater need for connection, community, and care. In the long run that matters as much if not more than each academic skill. Though we know the academics matter too.

Today's conversation made me wonder about how often parents and children discuss the big ideas of life. Clearly some children discuss current events and life choices often, but others appeared to not have much experience with those discussions. It's important to use stories from the news and one's life to help children think about their world and the future--those stories provide context for children, context that they can use later when making important decisions. It would be interesting to have this conversation with parents today as to how they handle the big questions of life with their children.

I'm rambling as I think about today's classroom, a bit different after a night of progress report writing and review. Though no teacher likes the rating that happens with progress reports, the activity does give us a fresh lens with which to see our students. Onward.