Friday, October 25, 2013

Small Wins

at 7:30 PM
Thank God for Small Wins.

That seems to be the theme of this year.

Some vignettes of small wins from this year.

This year's "loud one" (yea, there's one every year) has been consistently doing her Word Wise (vocab workbook, due every week) after I used our automated call system to call home about missing work. Apparently calling the parent she doesn't live with actually helped.

I have a SPED student who has been consistently writing on the wrong pages of his notebook, completely randomly. His notebook has also been slowly falling to pieces. Out of the blue one day he comes up with his notebook in hand and asked me, "how do I get a new notebook?" I was so in shock I gave him a "Proactive" ticket. [Our school is big on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, the first of which is Be Proactive, and we've developed a weekly raffle for it] I got out a new notebook and put his name on it and went over to him. "Now, we don't rip pages out of this book." *nodnodnod* "Also, I want you to write on the pages in order. Start here. Ok? No random pages." *nodnodnod*
It's been over a week. He's still writing on the pages in order! I was so excited, I told his SPED teacher and his mom.

A student did absolutely nothing all first quarter. His eyes were bloodshot and he was constantly complaining of headaches. He slept in class and never even attempted work. So I moved him to the front row by my desk. The behaviors continued, followed by more complaining because I actually made him work. Then, one day, he came in excited. "I brought my agenda today!" I check agendas daily and had been ragging on him all week about it. "Awesome, take it out and get started." He dove into his backpack as I walked away. "Oh, shiiit...." I went right back over to his desk, expecting him to have forgotten it again. Instead, he surprised me. Out came broken glass. Two large pieces of a hollow swan. I took them and called the office. "Oh, no, it isn't what you think it is!" "Either way, it's broken glass and a hazard." He proceeds to start pulling out more pieces of glass and putting them on his neighbor's desk, covering her notebook. So I took the notebook, too. At this point, the rest of the class is interested. A naive student calls out, "what's that?!" "A hookah!" yells one of my punks. "No, it's not!" the student denies all. "But I have hookah pens! They're for sell." Well, that gave me reason to confiscate the entire backpack. When the supervisor finally arrived I pointed at the notebook covered in glass and the backpack. "You need that, and that, and him." Long story short, he had nothing on him but a lot of money, so nothing happened. However, it did inspire the counselor to call in mom. We met with mom. He's now bringing all materials to class. Small wins.

Same student. One day he got called on to answer the warm up, which he hadn't done. In my class I don't allow students to say "I can't" or "I wont." I tell them it means they are choosing not to try. I told them at the beginning of the year that I will never ask them to do something too hard for them. But they have to try. It's perfectly acceptable to answer a question with, "I think it might be..." but to sit there and refuse to try is unacceptable. I told him he would have an answer by the end of class or I would hold him in. He tried to argue that he couldn't do the warm up and the work for the day. "You will. Multitask." I've found that, sometimes, just telling them they will convinces them that they will. We proceeded with our lesson on annotating. I had randomly chosen an article from a Reader's Digest about a teacher who had an emotionally disturbed student who took off running and she ran after him. Just by not giving up on him, she inspired a change in him. The last paragraph kind of summarized the moral.
"Nobody ever ran after him before." 
 At the end of the period, he remembered to stay and tell me the answer to the warm up. Then he said, "thank you," and left. He's been actually trying in class ever since.

Small wins.

Step by step.

My first observation went well. I haven't had the official meeting to talk about it yet, but the principal told me today how impressed he was by my classroom management and asked if he could have another teacher observe me to learn from me.

I gave up coffee this week. I was being grumpy and having headaches due to inconsistent coffee intake. So I decided on Sunday to cut it out for a few weeks. I wasn't grumpy all week.

I also decided to start calorie counting again. And going to the gym in the mornings. I went running Sunday evening. I tried to get up early on Monday, but it didn't happen. The rest of the week, though, I've gotten up an hour earlier and made it to the gym for 30 minutes each morning.

Yesterday I ran 10 minutes without stopping. Today I ran 13, a whole mile!

This week, I lost 5 lbs.

Small wins.

Step by step. We'll get through this year.


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