We All Need Some Slack

Yesterday was the fourth day of school for us and the end of the first week. For me and my girls it was the end of the first week at new schools. We’ve all adjusted just fine and I’ve loved the conversations we’ve had when I’ve picked them up at Kiss and Ride each afternoon. Hearing about their days and their questions about mine. Yesterday I was pretty distracted (we had to rush home to pick up a birthday gift for a sleepover for one daughter before rushing to settle on our new house). Luckily, this morning I read a post from Chris Lehmann and it triggered the memory of this conversation.

My second grader described the behavior management system (not with those words) in her classroom. Basically, everyone starts on green, “ready to learn” and can move up to blue and purple or down to yellow and red. Yellow is “take a break” and red is labeled “teacher choice”. One kid made it to red yesterday, the fourth day of school.

We had already talked about conversations I’ve had with teachers about kids not listening or behaving. Teachers saying that the mornings went well but in the afternoons the kids just couldn’t hold it together. I suggested to these teachers that maybe, like us, the kids were tired. Maybe they needed more flexibility, more patience, more chances to move and talk in the afternoon. Maybe, especially in kindergarten, we needed to cut them a little more slack right now.

After explaining the system, and noting that she never wanted to move down from green (a conversation we will revisit), my seven year old noted that the one kid who’d had to move his clothespin to “teacher choice” had seemed really sad this week. She told me, “I think he’s got a lot going on and it’s really hard.”

I hope she’s a teacher someday.


(The second paragraph in Chris’s post is where I had to stop reading and start writing. But the end of his post, when I got back to it, is a good reminder to me that care isn’t just limited to my students. I need that perspective for some others these days. Thank you, Chris.)

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