Westward Movement

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tie your shoe and pick up your sweater!

Most teachers like to post some sort of class motto or set of behavioral expectations. Each year, even though the majority of my class is with me for a second or third year, I ask them to create guidelines by which we'll live. I edit only spelling and grammar, and, unless it's completely unrealistic, I veto no one's idea. (One year, a student suggested I bring breakfast for everyone every Friday, and that it must include homemade cinnamon roles. I vetoed that one).

I expect the usual ... set the example, treat others with respect, keep our space clean, etc. My favorites on this year's list are "tell someone if their shoe is untied" and "pick up sweaters so nobody falls." To me, developing a young person's care for others is as important as teaching someone to read. What good is reading if you don't care if someone trips?

Yesterday, as we were cleaning up after a fantastic experience creating Cubist self-portraits in the style of Picasso, L, an almost always happy, enthusiastic, spirited student, picked his classmate's sweater up off the ground. He handed the sweater to A, and commented, "Here you go. You should tie your sweater around your waist or put it in the closet. If you leave it on the chair, it usually falls, and gets dirty. I know because last year mine fell all the time. This year we have a reminder on our circle map. See? (He pointed it out to her). That's going to help both of us. But I'm more experienced, so I'll help you remember, and you can look at the circle map. Okay?" She nodded her agreement, thanked him, and went on cleaning up. Sigh. Great end to an exhausting, but wonderful, first week of the 2011-2012 school year.

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