Routines and strict Miss Doodle… Duggle… Dmmmh

October 30, 2008 at 9:24 pm Leave a comment

A big day… I had a go at getting them back in from the playground, whereupon they are supposed collect their milk and settle on the carpet ready to listen to a story or share news. I had already planned a serious talk about “learning behaviour” and by the time I got them all sitting down, it was badly needed. It was a properly scary 15-20 minutes, followed by a very pleasant rest of afternoon. Overall, I think it was progress.

One thing I realised is I need to pay more attention to how the teacher organises routines. By the time I came out of the cloakroom (a whirl of lost gloves and shoes and tales of falling out) the children were all over the place. It’s chaotic but fixable. I herd those with milk to the carpet and send those without milk to get it. They go. They come back without milk – none left in their box. Suddenly about 10 children are off in all directions up and down the school looking for milk. I am now thinking What happens if I never get them all back sitting down and ready to listen?

Children start returning with milk. All are now heading for the carpet at my gentle insistence, but they are quite high and absolutely not listening. I tell them I am going to teach them a song, and start to sing (it’s about sitting on the floor and listening). Some of the boys think this is very funny. I am thinking, Will the rest of the class catch the hysteria? What if they all start laughing and don’t stop? A more detached part of me notes with interest that my long held fear of singing solo to an audience (I have a terrible singing voice) is now as nothing.

I finish singing to a fair bit of laughter, but it has partially worked. I begin the big serious chat about respect and listening. They are rapidly calming down, most are now with me. I silently thank my lecturers, and the staff from my last placement, for the positive behaviour language and concepts I am lifting directly from them. It’s fine – I set expectations, we’re down to about 5 children who are not on board. I tell them if they choose to keep being disrespectful they will be choosing to get a warning [the slippery slope to loosing golden time]. Two carry on talking and laughing – I give them their warning. One more tests it out – I give him his warning. They’re all on board. Ha! Sorted.

I tell them they are going to respectfully listen to their classmate, who is going to show them a book. They are silent and expectant. A child on the carpet is signalling to me with pleading eyes. His straw is too big – he needs the corner cut off his milk carton so he can drink it. Moment lost. Will there ever be a time this afternoon when we are not talking about or dealing with milk?

I get scissors to sort the milk. Talking breaks out. I tell them I’m really disappointed, this is disrespectful etc etc. I am temporarily and uncharacteristically strict. How odd – as odd as being Miss MacDougall (or more commonly Miss Doodle) instead of Katy. They settle silent and expectant again. The longest time passes while the child stands at the front with his book, saying nothing and searching in the book for the page he wants. My fault: I should have prepped him. My heart is pounding. I am willing him to find the page he wants before I loose the class again.

He settles on a page. I read out the first paragraph. He wants to show another page, I say,

“OK one more.”

“Just one?”

“Yes”. Emphatically yes.

Another long search. But we get through it – we look, I read, he’s happy, it’s done.

I segway quickly to the preparation for the art activity. It’s planned, it works: they’re thinking, right on task and enjoying it. I attempt and partially succeed in an orderly transition to the tables. They work well – most are getting on independently, all are focussed, happy and taking care with their work. The chat is pleasant. I give lots of praise. The artwork is great. One child tells me she thinks I’ll be a good teacher. I don’t know her criteria for a good teacher (no chance to ask – more glue/paint/scissors needed), but I hope she’s right. Not there yet though.

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Entry filed under: pedagogy.

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