Back in the spring I read Lost at School by Ross W. Greene and wished I had read it sooner. It validated so much of what I believe about children and helped me see how to better live what I believe. My timing, however, wasn’t so great. Reading it in the last month of school meant I did very little to try Plan B (the big idea here). By the time school began again I didn’t feel so confident in trying it as it had been several months since I read the book.
I’m finally rereading it and it’s a super slow process. The first time I read this book I devoured it. Now I’m reading it slowly, making lots of notes, pausing and thinking about students, past and present. It’s slow going. But worth it.
It has got me thinking that some of the things I do as a teacher that I am proud of and work hard at are maybe not so great for my kiddos…
Greene talks about how children tend to need routine and be somewhat inflexible in general. I think that’s true for the majority of kids. I pride myself on being flexible at school and being able to make any situation work. Am I helping my students learn to do the same? Or am I just ushering them through difficult situations? I think I should, at a minimum, do a far better job of communicating with my students when our routine changes.
Along the same idea, one of the big pieces of Plan B is identifying ‘unsolved problems’, regular events that are challenging for a student. This might be transitioning from recess back to the classroom, walking in line in the hallway, working with someone they don’t like so much, or getting started with difficult tasks. Identifying the ‘unsolved problems’ allows adults and students to work together to help the child gain the necessary skills to be more successful in those, and other, situations. Instead of working with the child to address these unsolved problems, I think I typically work to remove them or make them avoidable without losing the academic learning that is happening. My focus has always been on how to ensure students are getting what they need out of school but I’ve been defining that pretty narrowly. I’ve been far more focused on the academic goals than I realized. If a kid has trouble walking in the hall I might give them a task as we walk or walk right beside them. But that’s not helping them be in control of the situation. Removing the issues may look like it’s solving the problem, but I think it’s a short-term solution.
This is my 20th year in the classroom. When do I truly figure out this job?