Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nurtured Heart Approach

I was up into the wee hours of the morning (2:30am) reading what I feel has totally shifted my philosophy on 'behavior management'- Notching Up The Nurtured Heart Approach: The New Inner Wealth Initiative for Educators by Howard Glasser. Our district offers workshops on the Nutured Heart Approach. I used the approach in my classroom this past year, but now realize that I barely scratched the surface! This approach is one that seeks not to change or improve behavior, but rather to meet each student's needs by building up their inner strength to deal with the various situations that impact their life. This is not an approach just for the difficult child, but it is instead a whole-child, whole-class approach.

Glasser says in his book that this approach "is about giving child an unshakeable sense of self-worth with which they can navigate the complex territory of modern life. They will learn to use their intensity to propel success rather than to break rules and create chaos.

Based on the book, there are three 'Stands' that teachers should take in their approach with children in order to build up their 'greatness'

1. Stand 1: Refuse to energize negativity (ABSOLUTELY NO!!)
2. Stand 2: Relentlessly energize success (ABSOLUTELY YES!!)
3. Stand 3: Clearly but un-energetically enforce limits

My mind is so filled with emotion and ideas about how to truly 'notch up' my approach to energizing success through clearly enforcing limits without giving any energy to broken rules or poor choices. I will be posting over the next few days about kinks I plan to work out hopefully leading to a transformation in my use of this approach.

The question I will ponder and post on next is: If my focus is on building up greatness in each child, and refusing to feed into negativity in my classroom, is there really need for a conventional behavior management system with the standard laundry list of warnings and consequences, or is that totally counter-productive to the approach??

Have a wonderful Sunday and happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Daily Five-Revisited

In our school district, we are all required to work on a Professional Learning Plan each year, to foster our own growth as educators. My focus for this past year and the upcoming year is on creating a culture of literacy and learning in my classroom. I have been using the Daily Five framework in my classroom to create an environment in which students enjoy reading, are engaged in reading and acquire developmentally appropriate literacy skills they need to be readers and writers.

I spent today rereading the Daily Five and taking notes again on what I read. After having 1 year under my belt of implementing the Daily Five, I think I was able to see the framework through a different set of lenses. Below are the quotes that stood out to me this second tiem around. I fill these quotes really speak towards my focus for professional growth this upcoming school year.

Creating culture of literacy and learning
o “The typical teacher has children doing a lot of “stuff”. How is what I’m having children do creating readers and writers?” – Regie Routman

o “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants, the question is: What are we busy about?” – Henry David Throeau

o Quotes by The Sisters from The Daily Five
o “But did those things just keep our kids busy, or were they engaged in literacy tasks that will make a difference in their literate lives?”

o “We spent too much time managing their behavior, planning activities, and putting out fires instead of teaching.”

o “We were frustrated with our inability to engage students in independent meaningful reading practice”

o “The Daily Five is a student-driven management structure designed to fully engage students in reading and writing”

o “The Daily Five is a structure that envelops all of the components of comprehensive literacy and provides us with a plan to manage each piece in a user friendly way.”


o “If we are instructing so much that students don’t get a chance to read, or if we are counting working in a workbook as reading time, then we’re not giving them enough time to become better readers and writers”

o “We realized they had anchored their behavior to our reactions. We had unwittingly taught them to rely on our reinforcement to keep them on task.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Achievement Conundrum

Today I attended the first part of a Data Analysis workshop I signed up to attend. A team of teachers and our AP are attending this workshop with a focus on analyzing this year's premliminary results from our state standardized test in order to guide strategic future steps for our building. Our school is a low SES school with a history of high teacher turnover-which has proved to be an underlying cause of our students' consistent underperformance in reading. As with any school, there are always mitigating factors, but what we are charged to do is to collaboratively with strategic focus provide our students with instruction that appreciates all of these mitigating factors, meets students where they are, accerlates all students (especially those below grade level), and provides each student with an enriching educational experience that prepares them for excellence throughout life.

So, I'm pretty sure there are thousands of schools all over the nation facing this same conundrum. The question that still lingers for me is what does it take to really propel students? What is the magic potion? Why is it that even with the most brilliant minds working together, this is still a conversation? I know that students are diverse and thus have diverse needs, but I have to wonder if we spend so much time running around in circles that we are totally missing it??

These are my musings, but I am curious to hear your thoughts. Why is students achievement still the 'million dollar question'? What mitigating factors has your school overcome to achieve student success?

~Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!~

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Time to Adjust

So I have officially been on summer vacation since Friday (after packing up my room all day Thursday preparing for our move to our new school). I must say that as anxious as I was for vacation, the last three days have been quite awkward for me, not having to prepare any lesson plans, grade any papers, etc. I spent Saturday out and about and thought repeated throughout the day "I need to buckle down this evening and get some work done". It will def take some time to make the much needed mental shift!

At the top of my To-Do list is de-clutter and organizing my task with which I have been very successful over the last few days!! I'm not sure how many of you out there have a similar experience, but during the school year, I feel like things just pile up on me. I get so many papers, magazines, trinkets for the classroom, etc and I don't seem to ever have enough time to put them in a proper place. Well, as I de-clutter my apartment, I am finding a greater since of peace within myself. As cliche as it may sound, I truly do feel more relaxed. I have one room down and about 3 more to go.

As tough as it has been these last 3 days to adjust to not being tied to school, I am dedicated to spending this summer learning how to sit back, relax and enjoy every moment before me.