Week one-million! Okay, I’m exaggerating, it’s only week eleven. But this is one of those weeks where it feels like forever.
Lessons: First graders are using Google Drive this week for the first time with me, particularly Google Slides. I showed them how to add shapes and change their size and color. Many of them figured out how to add text on their own, and that knowledge spread. That kind of thing is so interesting to observe, since it gives me an idea on what I can expect out of them in the future.
Support: So our school district got more bandwidth, and it’s such a relief. Things are just going more smoothly as a result.
Things I Did Well: This week I felt good in my own skin, which is not really a professional victory, but it is professional-adjacent. I am very aware of how enclothed cognition impacts my attitude. In fact, when I’m feeling my worst, I’m usually dressing my best. My “best” might not be the most professional clothes I own, but clothes that make me feel good about myself.
Things I Will Do Better: I definitely felt a bit grumpy and short-tempered this week. One of the things I’m very aware of as a teacher is how my reactions to things often have a lot less to do with students, and more to do with me myself. For example, one day I might be absolutely fine with a lot of noise. But maybe the next day I’ve got a headache and would really prefer it more quiet. But those kinds of things are not things kids can know about me, especially since those are often things I’m only aware of in myself if I’m paying attention. It would be unfair to punish students one day for behavior that was acceptable the day before. So I try to pay attention to myself; accept support when it comes (like relying on other teachers to step up during bus dismissal); and, when reasonable, communicate directly with students about what I might be feeling without making them responsible for my feelings.
To be perfectly honest, this is one of the reasons I find a class pet to be useful. It’s not really appropriate to say to kids, “Hey, I need you to chill today, because I’m PMSing really bad.” Somehow, though, it seems okay (if still manipulative) to put that on the lizard. “Hey, Qwerty seems to be really grouchy today, so maybe we should try to be extra-quiet?” It works the other way too. Sometimes when I notice a student having an off day, I tell them Qwerty is having an off day, could they please give him a pep talk? Obviously he listens (what choice does he have) but really they’re giving the pep talk to themselves. It’s not a foolproof plan, but it gives kids the chance to put their feelings into words, identify with their feelings, and decide what to do with or about those feelings.
Cold Prickly: Diffusion of responsibility. Our dismissal duties are shared among a wide pool of people, largely to make sure there’s always someone there. But sometimes it feels like there are more people than needed to accomplish a task. For example, for car rider dismissal, there are four or five teachers who man the walkie-talkies and communicate about the specific kids to send out, and when. But there’s only four walkie-talkies, so the other teachers at that duty mind the children as they’re called. As time has gone by, children became accustomed to the routine and are pretty chill now. So, from the outside looking in, it appears as though the child-minding teachers are socializing with each other at least as much as they’re actually minding the children. I don’t begrudge them this, because they also rotate in and out with the walkie-talkie teachers.
In fact, I don’t even have car rider duty. I have a bus duty, where we gather two busloads of students in the cafeteria and dismiss them from there. I took this duty because I had a better ability than other teachers to get there in a timely manner, otherwise groups of students were reaching the cafeteria before teachers were and were unsupervised until an adult arrived. This week, there was a combination of circumstances where I was the only teacher in there for far too long. I could tell it was too long because our buses were waiting outside, but I couldn’t actually take the children to the bus without leaving the other busload of children unsupervised. I had to call the office and ask them to use the announcements system to summon others to the cafeteria.
Now, I don’t know why the other teachers didn’t show, or showed so late. Maybe some were on their way when I had the announcement made. But it seemed to me to be a problem with the diffusion of responsibility. I was raised in a large family; often there would be an important chore that needed done. But you would look at the stack of dishes in the sink, calculate how many other people lived in the house, and think to yourself, “There are x number of people who can and probably will do that; therefore I do not have to.” I think bus duty has become the same way. The people who take on the most active roles are the ones most consistently there. Others feel that, since those other people are there to get things done, they’re less necessary and it won’t be a huge loss if they don’t show. I think this is fine for individuals to experience on occasion, but when many or even most people experience it on the same day, it can lead to big problems.
Warm Fuzzy: My poop emoji hairstyle I wore on October 31st. I sat in a meeting for 30 minutes before any other adults noticed it, and the one who did thought it was a little monster. But kids recognized what it was instantly.
Ain’t I a stinker?