Thursday, July 28, 2011

Home Visits

Although I am still milking summer vacation for all it is worth, I am super pumped about the start of the school year!! I never in a million years thought I would be teaching kindergarten, but I am so happy that the opportunity presented itself to me. Before the start of the school year, I am planning to do Home Visits for my 23 kiddos and their families. I think that it will be a powerful way to start the year-meeting families on their 'turf' and fostering a connection with them before the year even start. I also believe it will establish a little comfort with my kinder friends to know their teacher before the Big Day. This is something that no one in my building has done before and my other kindergarten team members are not on board but I have 120% support from my principal, so it looks like it is a go. Our school literacy coach has agreed to go with me on the visits...YAY!!!

I would love for you to share any experiences/tips you have in regards to Home Visits!

Nurtured Heart-Discipline Plan

I ended my last post with thoughts and questions about The Nurtured Heart 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??

After attending the 3 day Nurtured Heart workshop, I understand that my wonderings were somewhat founded. It is not possible to have a behavior management system that uses warnings and reminders, because it sends the message to students that the rules are not always the rules. Children know what is expected, so why waste your time with warnings when you can quickly consequence the behavior with a quick timeout (no longer than 60 seconds) and welcome the child back, eagerly looking for success to highlight with that same student when they return.

With teaching kindergarten this year, I do feel like those little kiddos do need a little extrinsic motivation so I have tweaked my discipline plan:

Level 1: Reset (quick, clean time out)
Level 2: Buddy Room (students who refuse to reset or have substantial resets during the morning, afternoon will be sent to a Buddy Room. In this room, the teacher will give no energy to this student. They will be in this room for no more than 15 minutes.
Level 3: Loss of recess (this is not a time for lectures/discussions about why the student has lost recess-they already know so there is no reason to pour negative attention into the situation)
Level 4: Referral to A.P/Principal (this is a level for severe actions like fighting, bullying, theft, etc.)

Rewards/Incentive Systems:
Our school is a PBIS school and we use "Gotcha" tickets when we see students making positive choices. In my room, I will use these "Gotchas" as a credit system to honor students showing their greatness. When students are showing leadership, being a good friend, persevering through a tough task, participating, being thoughtful, they can earn a Gotcha. Every two weeks or so, we will have a "Gotcha Store" where students can purchase things like: eating lunch with the teacher, sitting with a friend, note/phone call home, special messenger for the day, etc.

The tenets of The Nurtured Heart Approach are: Highlighting the positives and the greatness of each student, avoiding the leaking of negativity, and being strict and consistent (the rules are the rules every day for everyone). This approach is not to manage behavior, but rather to turn right-side up the culture in the classroom in to one that highlights and promotes the greatness that we all possess. I cannot wait to see the impact of this approach in my classroom this year!

Happy Thursday everyone!