Monday, September 29, 2014

Crash Course Week 4: Play and Recovery

When was the last time you laughed out loud or were just silly with your friends, children, or students? It is amazing how, when you let yourself relax and have fun, you just feel better! Do you have some examples of how you incorporate play, fun, silliness, etc. into your classroom? Or do you have thoughts or plans as to how to do this?

Recovering from a set back is incredibly difficult, especially when you let (or feel you let) others down. How do you recover when you make a mistake in your school or classroom? Or how do you move on and forgive when you are wronged?

Next week's reading assignment is chapters 6 and 7, "Talent" and "Optimism." If you are behind in your reading or commenting, just catch up as you are able. Or if you have a coworker who would like to join, tell them to jump in. Just be sure they start with an introduction in week 1. We are still very early in the book club so there's a lot of time to join in and get caught up.

72 comments:

  1. I have to admit I think I allowed more play and fun in my classroom when I was a younger teacher. Now the thought that an administrator might pop into my room at any moment on any day has made me structure my classes more with that possibility in mind. That said, I try to embrace the light-hearted moment when it occurs. Here is an example. Last year a retired male teacher stopped by my classroom. I had no idea he was coming, and he had no idea I was being evaluated at the time! He stuck his head in and talked awhile and then said, "Well, come give me a hug!" He probably wondered why I wasn't interacting with him much, but it was because my assistant principal was sitting in the back of the room! Nevertheless, I walked over and hugged my former colleague. This year the first day of school I passed out Snapple lids and had the kids read the different facts. Then they filled out a paper with ten "Snapple" facts about themselves which they shared with each other. It was a good ice-breaker for the first day of school. I saw lots of smiles as they were doing this. This was an idea I adapted from a Kristina Smekens workshop. It would be even more fun if I could pass out real bottles of Snapple to the students the next time I do this activity.

    Recovering from a setback is difficult, especially if feelings have been hurt in the process. Recently, my daughter's feelings, and those of my husband and I, were hurt by a teacher at my school. Although it may not have been intentional, I felt the way the situation was handled could have been managed more sensitively. I wavered back and forth about what to do - or what not to do - for several days. In the end, I went to the other teacher and asked if I could talk to him about the situation. It was awkward, but I feel in the long run it would have been more awkward not to talk about it. I have to work with this teacher, and my daughter will have him as a teacher, and possibly a coach, every day this year and next school year. I thought we would all recover from the situation more quickly if we talked it out. I think this was the right thing to do, and I am sure we are all further along in our recovery than if I had just ignored the situation. As I'm getting older, I realize that being willing to open difficult areas of conversation come more easily to me than for some other individuals. I can usually be the one to swallow my pride and take the first step. I am happy I am a confident enough person to take that step. I don't always like what I hear from the other person, but at least I know I am trying to keep healthy communication going. That is the ultimate lesson I am trying to teach my daughter and my students in modeling this behavior.

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    1. I agree that having the possibility of an evaluator walking in at any second, can have you feel the need to tighten the reigns and maybe not have as much "fun" involved in lessons. But I think any good administrator or evaluator knows that fun is imperative to kids learning. And sometimes we have to joke around a little! I was gearing kids up for a standardized test one year and we were doing some review to prepare. My principal happened to come in during the middle of the lesson. Reviewing can be boring, so I made sure to liven up my lesson by saying little humorous things every now and then and allowing us all to laugh. (Most of it was vocabulary in context review.) The principal even noted my good rapport with students in his observation notes, noting how I was able to make the lesson fun and interesting, while still maintaining control of the class.

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  2. When I am off the clock, I am always recalling funny stories with friends and family or telling jokes. I like to keep things simple and relaxed. I always start the school year out very strict and organized. I want the students to know who the boss is and how the routine works. I try to relax and joke with them more after some time has gone by. However, I keep finding that more students want to just relax and socialize than do the work. Then I have to tighten up the reins to get everyone back in line. I like keeping the mood relaxed and fun, but the production has to be there for me as well.

    I like to tell jokes to my class. On their test and quizzes, I will put math riddles on there for extra credit. I like to get students out of their seats and do board races or other games to review for tests. I also try to include some fun worksheets that are not just the same plain problems.

    When I make a mistake, I always make sure to apologize to that individual or group. I try to explain why the mistake occurred or what happened to create this issue. Then I offer up a solution to correct the issue or mend any hurt feelings. I will also ask what I can do to make up for this wrongdoing. I try to accommodate anyone involved, and I do my best to make it better.

    I do not have a problem forgiving someone when I have been wronged. My biggest problem is the forgetting. I continuously remind myself that the past is the past. If the person has apologized, it does make the forgetting process easier. However, I do believe that everyone deserves a second chance. So I do my best to forgive the person and move on.

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    1. I am very similar to you in terms of what you have shared. I start each year very strict and very firm, as time goes on I relax a bit. However, I also always like to see productivity. I like to share silly stories about my kids and my family in my classes to help the students see who I am outside of school. Frequently, I will see smiles or laughter and know that I have made a connection with that student.

      I am also willing to forgive and it is much harder for me to forget. Hearing those two words, "I'm sorry," are so powerful and can make this process much easier. It is hard to say "I'm sorry," to anyone but when we do it allows others to see that we have admitted our mistake and hopefully are willing to fix it. I will and have apologized to students, coworkers, etc and then I try my best to make sure that it doesn't happen again. Everyone deserves a fresh start if they are willing to do better the next time.

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  3. As a principal, I always enjoy visiting the classrooms with creative teachers the most! I can imagine how the students feel when they enter the classroom!
    We try to highlight these creative lessons in our weekly school newsletter and the area newspapers. It is amazing the responses we receive from those who read (and see pictures) of these wonderful lessons!

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  4. On the first day of school I always let the students know that mistakes will be made; by them and me! I've lost count how many times I've made mistakes this year, and I think its important to let the students know that everyone isn't perfect and we all make mistakes. The students politely correct my misread page numbers or laugh when I say the wrong name. I think allowing yourself to be human brings you closer to your class. They see a different side of their teacher which, in my opinion, allows them to connect with us more.

    I always think it's important to laugh with your students. My philosophy is students learn better when they enjoy coming to school. Some teachers think yelling and being demanding helps their students focus better, but I disagree. I feel like students who want to come to school will learn. I want my students to be excited to come to school and know they are going to have fun and learn at the same time. I allow my students a "brain break" in the morning and before school ends. They seem to really enjoy this and know they must work hard in order to receive this special privilege.

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  5. I think it's very important to play in the classroom. When students see you being silly it let's them see you as more of a real person and not the teacher in charge. I also like to attend school and community functions outside of school hours so students can see you in a different setting. My students seem so shocked to see me at the grocery store. :). I enjoy having a good time with my students, while maintaining order. If I am relaxed having a good time, my students are too therefore wanting and willing to put forth their best effort. I don't want to stand in front of the class and be a robot. Everyday is new and exciting and full of fun opportunities.

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  6. Playing comes easy for me when I have appreciative students. When they can absorb the lesson behind the play and understand when to reel it all back in following a rowdy activity, I tend to go this direction a little more. In spite of having high school level students, I have played a wide variety of children's games with them to enhance vocabulary acquisition, some of the games they haven't played for years, such as 'upset the fruit basket' (replacing the fruit with vocabulary groups), tic-tac-toe for verb forms, slap jack for learning numbers, etc. A fun one to learn days of the week in Spanish is called Domingo Siete (musical chairs while chanting a rhyme). Some rather reserved students move beyond their quiet selves when winning a game is on the line.The last time we played Domingo Siete a girl tackled her classmate to keep from losing her seat. Another one to learn body parts puts the class in two circles, one inside the other, moving in opposite directions; when the class leader calls out two body parts in Spanish, the students break circles to find their partners and match the body parts called---I choose carefully the list of matching body parts. In some classes I play less because the personalities already have some 'circus' element in their system; so, added stimulation is not advisable. This may not be fair to eliminate play altogether, but I have to keep my own sanity.

    Now for the more difficult topic, recovery: Thanks to Kim Bearden for the simple words "Learn….and let it go". I especially appreciated the suggestion of writing a letter then never sending it although I adapted my own version of this several years ago when I needed a filter on my thoughts and actions. I made a pact with myself that I would wait one week before speaking or acting upon my instincts to respond to a colleague about a disagreement. While a week can seem too long when living it, there are hundreds of weeks in a teaching career, and I have learned through endurance why the author labeled this chapter 'Recovery'. Her last paragraph said it all, "kids seem to be far better equipped to let go of bitterness and not hold a grudge. They are quick to forgive, forget, and move on. We should follow their lead." I see this happening with my students when a class period hasn't ended especially upbeat for someone: I have learned not to stew and stress over students' reactions as I find many times they return seemingly not remembering the incident. As a couple of our fellow bloggers have pointed out (Week 2: Jean Dowen/Sandy Gutzwiller), trying to end class on a positive note no matter what has happened during a class period applies to this week's 'Life Lesson' of recovery all the more, for it is one day upon another then another that makes my week stand strong.

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    1. I love what you said about when students can absorb the lesson behind the play- I feel exactly the same way. Some students have trouble separating the play from the learning- but I love it when we can play to learn!

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    2. I love that you said "Playing comes easy for me when I have appreciative students." I can completely relate to that. I have worked with kids that when I go out of my way to spend money on them, do do fun things and it is greeted with an "is that all??" attitude it can really burn you out. I think when the kids appreciate that you have gone above and beyond because you care about them it makes it so much easier and makes you want to do it that much more!

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  7. For me, the classroom is a bit of a refuge from a busy family and coaching schedule. I am very intentional about making it that way for my students as well. I don't want anyone dreading coming to my class. Just last class I did my annual "idol" lesson plan where a thesis statement and supporting arguments are composed into a song and performed for the class. I tell any student that I will perform with any group if they are nervous. I am an awful singer which makes it more enjoyable for the kids. We will also do raps, tell jokes, and make videos from time to time. Once a quiz is over I have students list responses on the back to random questions such as "favorite wing sauce" or "favorite vegetable", etc. Then I can engage anyone in the class with their response. It's important to build a class portfolio out of that stuff in a joking way. I also, enjoy having students make connections or metaphors for historical events and the 'teenage world' they live in.

    Setbacks are tough to overcome. If I've come to the conclusion that I really could have handled a situation better than I did I will apologize for not doing so but maintain my rationale as having merit. I find that allows me the closure to move on with maybe even some trust being gained for doing so. The really hard setbacks are when you know someone perceives something you did was wrong or regretful but you stand by that decision and your rationale. In that case, time and a forward-looking approach is the only remedy. Maybe sometime in the future in can revisited on the right terms.

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    1. I so much appreciate your forward, future directed approach to moving on after a set-back. I have tried to teach and model to my own children the same attitude. They have tried it both ways and as young adults realize nobody is very happy hanging onto what 'should have been'.

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  8. Even though I am in my upper 40's, I still like to play games with my teens. I willl bump the volleyball with my daughter, rebound the basketball for my son or hold the hoola-hoop for him to practice his football passes. It keeps me active and lets my kids know I like to spend time with them. I often like to play games in the classroom. As a sub, I would let the kids play a quick game of 4 corners and have a stash of suckers in my substitute bag for the winners. As a Title One teacher, we often play Go Fish, Concentration, or Bingo with sound cards, rhymes or letters.

    The Recovery chapter made me think more of my personal life instead of the classroom. I find it difficult to stay mad at someone. For me, it takes more effort to hold a grudge than to forgive and later, forget. Once, our church had a feet-washing ceremony. I chose to wash the feet of someone that I had been upset with for awhile. We were cordial toward each other but never mentioned the "pink elephant in the room". Neither one of us had to say a word, but we knew afterwards that all was forgiven. It was a very freeing experience!

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  9. Improv! Any teacher that discovers to power of Improv games will never be the same. I had a plethora of improv games to teach a variety of different skills. It allows students the chance to have fun, create an environment of collaboration, foster more creativity in students, and also helps build presentation skills. When we had downtime, the kids would always request their favorite improv game. If we needed a warm up, I pull from my "bag" of games. I always told the kids, "If we have to be here, why not have some fun?" My kids also learned by following the rules of improv, we have more fun. Thus, when we have a class discussion, we still follow the rules of improv. All I have to say is, "Remember Yes, And..." or "Keep in mind, you look good if you help your scene partner look good." Kids know exactly what I mean even when it we aren't doing improv. Also, when it is time to buckle down and work, the kids are more respectful of that time because they know they will get to perform some fun games when it is appropriate.

    As for mistakes, it is always crucial to be willing to admit to your mistakes. Kids really respect a teacher who will own up to a mistake. We also model that behavior of acknowledging a mistake and working to correct it. Teachers that deny mistakes or try to hide them only encourage students to do the same. I also stress to my students the importance of being willing to problem-solve even when they didn't create the problem. I tell my students the story about the year that I filed my taxes and got a letter back from the IRS saying I paid $0 in income taxes and demanded I pay them a few thousands dollars that I had already paid. The letter also contained no guidance for me to dispute, request a review, or even talk to someone at the IRS about the mistake. I had to do my own research on the internet, find the right forms, find where to mail those forms, and resubmit my tax returns. Someone along the way made a mistake when processing my taxes that created the problem. However, it became my problem and if I ignored it, it would have only gotten worse. The lesson being, sometimes people create problems for us. We can complain, be obstinate and refuse to fix it, but that rarely solves the problem.

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    1. This idea of improv games sounds fascinating! Is there a book or website you initially got the ideas from? I'm not an improv person- I plan my games in advance. But this sounds like spontaneous fun, which is always appreciated! Anything you can share?

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    2. For me, I took an Improv class through IndyProv for fun and realized how many games I could use in my class. I then read "Second City's Guide to Improv in the Classroom" by Katherine McKnight. I also had Katherine on my podcast if you're interested in listening: http://edreach.us/podcast/flipped-learning-60-improv-in-the-classroom-with-katie-mcknight/

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  10. I love to play! We try to include games frequently in the classroom, like Kahoot and Quia games (the kids love Rags to Riches and Battleship), that include content delivery or review- play to learn. I also try to joke, include comics and silly videos like Horrible Histories, etc- anything we can do to lighten up the heavy curriculum load of Social Studies 6.

    Recovery...that seems to happen to me a lot. I'm a risk taker, very emotional , and sometimes things just don't happen as I'd like. I stick my foot in my mouth and have to apologize. Class doesn't go as planned, and we have to reboot. I inadvertently embarrass or hurt the feelings of a student- and again, I have to apologize (and even call home and make it right with the parents). Our school is becoming STEM focused, with an emphasis on the engineering process- which includes the idea of "iterations" and redos. So I've adopted that philosophy in my classroom as well- whether it's a personal event that fails and I need to apologize, or a class activity or lesson that fails and we have to try again, or a student that fails a test and needs to improve a score to demonstrate mastery of a standard- we have agreed to give each other permission to fail. As long as you don't stay in your failure, then failure is a necessary part of life. You have to recover. I've taught the students since Day 2- FAIL= First Attempt, I'm (still) Learning. So we do a lot of recovery in class. Do we always like it? NOPE. I hate eating crow. I hate hurting feelings and needing to apologize. I hate it when things go wrong in class. BUT it's a part of life- one of those "soft skills" of life to recover, and in the long run, as long as it's not abused, the recovery process can make the classroom relationship stronger.

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    1. This fun side of you reminds me why I enjoyed our time at IFLTA together...would you like to come to a math teachers conference next month just to create a little havoc!

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    2. Kari, I love your F.A.I.L. acronym! This is so true!

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    3. I too love the FAIL comment. I am going to use this in my classroom. I think I will use it as Epic FAIL, my band geeks will love it.

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  11. I think that teaching can be incredibly difficult. It would be, at times, unbearable if we did not have fun in the classroom. It helps that I teach middle school kids. They are always willing to laugh and have a good time. My co-teacher and I work hard to establish a positive rapport with our students, which allows us to joke, often at our expense, and have a good time with them in class. We also try to come up with things for our students to do that are fun. For example, last year, for the last day of school, we set up a water ballon fight for them to partake in.

    Recovering from setbacks in the classroom is tough. If it is my mistake, I publicly apologize, try to learn from what I did, and move on. If it is something a kid has done, I take a step back and work to get some perspective. I try hard to remember that they are just kids and they will make mistakes from time to time.

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  12. I had a difficult time putting these two chapters, “Play” and “Recovery” together. It seemed like a paradox to go from fun to too serious when these ideas were in the same reading assignment. Since I always tell my seniors in my ELA classes that within a paradox is found a truth, it is time to me to practice what I preach. Therefore, I believe that we are hurt and injured as teachers whenever we forget why we went into teaching in the first place. It was never about us. We become teachers because we want what is best for the students and sometimes that is different than what parents think is best for them. At times a student needs to read a controversial book in order to clarify his/her own conventions. At times a student needs to connect with another person because life at home is just too difficult. At times, a student needs to feel the stress that comes as a consequence of his/her actions while in a safe environment. And at times, a student needs to relieve stress with some light-hearted fun.

    I could draw numerous examples of these situations from my twenty-seven years of teaching experience, so I will just use some recent ones. During my first period sophomore English we were discussing horror movies as a prequel to the study of the novel “Frankenstein.” One of the boys in the class said that “Prometheus” was the worst movie ever created and I laughed and asked if he knew about “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”. We took a moment out of class and found the movie trailer for the cult classic on-line. The students were laughing out-loud at some of the scenes. Later in the week, I passed out the copies of “Frankenstein” and a different student asked if it was a good story. I was able to smile and say, “Well, it’s no Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, but it will do.” It was a moment that causes the class and me to smile.

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  13. I think it is vital to have those fun moments in our classroom. As I look back at all the lessons I have taught it seems I always have some kind of engaging activity to start the lesson. Just today in class the kids were struggling with antonyms. I started a game of charades with them and they quickly caught on. I find this with a lot of my lessons (especially the difficult ones) if I incorporate fun/play in them the students are more apt to remember it, and meet the objective for the lesson. I am so encouraged by my students' laughter I love to hear it throughout the day. There is a sign in one of our hallways that says, "Life should be a journey not a race." I think this journey these kids are on should be full of laughter and fun, but learning at the same time. I like the statement above someone made, "Then I have to tighten up the reins to get everyone back in line." I do this periodically and my students do very well when it comes time to get back to serious work. One website my kids love that we definitely have silly moments during is called gonoodle.com. This website is full of brain breaks for kids. They are excellent to incorporate during long math lessons.

    Oh the mistakes we make. I have made so many over the years, and continue to make them. I tell my students we all make mistakes and that is what erasers are for. If I make a mistake in front of a student or to the class I am quick to apologize. It is the same method for parents, other teachers, my husband, and anyone that I come in contact with. I was raised not to blame others for our mistakes and make it right by apologizing and/or acts of kindness. I hope this morale will rub off on all of my students.

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    1. I love the fun things you have incorporated and I"m glad I've been able to see them first hand. I guarantee every student in your room will remember your Thanksgiving skit! They love it and it's neat to see their personalities really come out as well as being able to see how far they've come as readers! Awesome!

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  14. We are so blessed in our preschool to be able almost always to play and have fun to learn!! We make up games to learn beginning sounds and phonics. The students have even made up learning songs that we continue to use in future classes!! The children show us how they learn and it usually includes having fun.
    I have to agree with Cathy Gohmann that these two chapters didn't flow well together. That being said, my classes learn from their mistakes, they know that it is okay to make them because we can practice and still learn. The biggest lesson that I have learned is to make mistakes so your students can see it. They love to help you "recover' your mistakes and they know that I am not perfect and that we keep trying just to do our best.

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  15. With my band classes, we play every day. Sometimes the play is more fun (performances, for example) than others (such as when we are drilling new skills) but we try to entertain and enjoy ourselves while making and learning about music each day. We use a lot of tricky Italian vocabulary in music, so when teaching a new word, I will often put it on the board and play hangman with the students so they can learn how to spell it. I also play an instrument along with the kids at times during class. They see that I can do what they are learning, and that I enjoy and have fun making music with them. This also helps with recovery - as everyone does, I make mistakes sometimes. When the students hear me make a mistake in a song, they can also learn how I recover from them. They see me model behaviors such as: keep playing, take a breath and start over, jump back in, etc. And if I am willing to point out my own mistakes, it is easy to recover from them because everyone learns what not to do next time!

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  16. I so appreciate the author stating that we can become so engrossed in our own stress and responsibilities that we forget to just sit back and enjoy our students! High school kids, and especially middle school students, are going to mess up at some point in time. It is hard not to overreact to simple silliness, but if we react in a way that makes them aware of the wrong behavior but doesn't demoralize them in the process we can make great strides with the student.
    I recently made a mistake when emailing teachers about a student who was misbehaving in class, I wrote the wrong last name. Unfortunately for this wrongly accused kid, the football coach ( and this kid's teacher) saw the email and gave him some extra running and push ups during practice for being disruptive in my class, while the kid who was actually causing the distraction sat by and watched! This poor boy was so upset because he had no idea what he had done wrong. Once I realized my mistake, I apologized to my student and the next day I came to football practice and did the same running and push up drill that he had done the previous day. In fact, he did the whole thing again with me! I remind my kids daily that I am FAR from perfect and that we all make mistakes but it is most important to learn from them and not repeat them. Our principal is always saying that we need to have "grace" with each other, and it is SO true. By extending a little grace we may see a huge return of positive behavior.

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    1. Wow, Amanda! You could’ve stopped at the apology, but how impressive to actually go to the football practice and replicate the boy’s punishment!!! That’s a life lesson that those boys will never forget! And then for the boy to join you…what a neat kid! Great story! 

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  17. I can actually imagine what it was like for students to witness a sword fight between two teachers. It was surely an unforgettable moment. The author is right, most of us take ourselves too seriously most of the time. Admittedly, I probably do not embrace silliness in the classroom often enough. It wasn't always that way. I played as a child and still am able to relax and enjoy life outside of school. I think most of us have built a fort around ourselves, never letting our guard down.

    When I think of silliness, a group of young teachers at my school come to mind. Together, these three guys play in a band. They play for school functions and sometimes just for entertainment during class. The students love listening to their mini concerts, no matter how silly the music is. It's healthy to laugh both at ourselves and with others. I need to relax more and let students see me enjoying life.

    Life is too short to hold a grudge. Honesty about our mistakes in the classroom is a necessary component when building positive relationships with students. Children tend to be more forgiving than adults and move on quickly. I find it easy to admit when I've made a mistake in the classroom. Students appreciate knowing I'm "human."

    Admittedly, I've been wronged more than once in the workplace. It is hurtful and often difficult to move on. I experienced the same parent situation early on in my principalship as the author. A particular parent belittled me each time his child was confronted in any way by me or another teacher. I quickly caught on that he would only call me at home- he would never come in face-to-face. He would yell and say things, similar to the author's first-year teacher experience. In hindsight, with more experience, I wouldn't have let him speak to me that way, and I would have insisted that we speak face-to-face. Unfortunately, I held a grudge against the student as well, as the student played both of us on a weekly basis. Although this was almost ten years ago, it still is a reminder of how difficult recovery can be no matter what the age or circumstance.

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  18. Ch. 4: Laughter is always the best medicine. . . as long as it is at appropriate times. I like to plan fun activities for my English classes. We have built things, created hands-on projects, and even had different contests in class. Sometimes, we just laugh for no reason at all. The students like when I let them listen to Pandora while they work. Music is motivating for them. Unfortunately, silliness can be taken too far. The classroom gets out of control and chaos ensues.

    Ch. 5: During my second year of teaching, I had a parent call and leave a voicemail for me that literally brought me to tears. He tore me up one side and down the other. I did return his call. I spoke to his wife, and I told her that I did not appreciate her husband talking to me like that. Within a few days, the man did call me back and apologize. He also apologized at our next parent teacher conference. My feelings towards that family were never the same after that phone call. After that incident, I dreaded answering my messages for fear of another scalding message. Unfortunately, I never let go of my grudge against that family. It wasn't the student's fault. He was a good kid. Now, as I have been teaching longer, I have learned not to take things so personally. I always try to "kill them with kindness" whenever I receive an email or voicemail (which is few and far between). I never respond angry. Usually, after I have contacted the parent, the parent is still fired up at first, but by the end of the conversation they have calmed down and are pleasant enough. My daughter was bullied in 6th grade. She had a group of girls who picked on her day in and day out. One day, they even planned on pushing her down the stairs. She is in 9th grade now. I have seen her interacting with these same girls on teams and such, and I asked her how she could ever talk to them in a friendly manner after what they did and planned on doing to her. Her response was, "Mom, I can't live life being mad at someone. I may have forgiven them, but I will never forget what they did to me." Great advice from a 15 year old. Hopefully, we learn and keep on learning, and don't let others, or our own frustrations and anger, bring us down.

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  19. I sponsor the publications class at my school. My students are responsible for publishing the school newspaper and yearbook. The class is focused on creativity which I think, lends itself to lots of laughter in general. There are times when I have to rein in the laughter so that we successfully turn out a product. By in large, smiles and laughter are one of the highest ranking objectives of my class.

    With regard to Recovery, I commented on Tammy's post about the use of "Poison Pen." If I am upset with someone or something, I write everything I'm feeling and/or would like to say down. After reading what I've written, I discard the paper. This is one way I achieve Recovery. The other way is reminding myself to "Let go, and let God." As I get older in my profession and in my personal life, this has become my mantra. That, and "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff."

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  20. I teach 7th grade Language Arts and most days I leave the building laughing/smiling about something. They are incredibly unpredictable, for most that is what they dislike most about this age group, however, for me it is what I LOVE the most. You never know what you are going to get from day to day and it keeps you on your toes. When it comes to introducing laughter/fun in the classroom I believe it all begins with building a relationship with your students, and being able to laugh at yourself (showing your don't take yourself too seriously). I hate to admit how many "silly" things I have done over the years, but all have left me and the classroom bursting into laughter. Several years ago we were reviewing for an upcoming exam. A student happened to be absent and I used that desktop as a seat to sit closer to my students and better engage with them during the review session. As we were reviewing, out of nowhere the desk flipped over making my feet go straight up in the air and toppling to the ground. At first the students were alarmed, but once they saw I was okay and was able to laugh about it, they all joined in the fun. I still have students come by my room and say, "Hey Mrs. Wolfe...remember that time you fell off the back of your desk...."

    I response to recovery, this is something many of us don't want to dwell on; however, there comes a time when an apology is needed either from the teacher or student, depending on who is in the wrong. I have learned an apology goes a LONG WAY into restoring a relationship back to what it was. If I have made a mistake I make a concerted effort to apologize. While it is not enjoyable to draw attention back to the issue, it is essential students see adults take responsibilities for their actions in an appropriate manner.

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    1. "They are incredibly unpredictable, for most that is what they dislike most about this age group, however, for me it is what I LOVE the most". I agree 100% percent about middle school kiddos - they are so fun to teach.

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  21. “Once the children in my life taught me how to play, I learned how to lighten up, loosen up, and live more.” I think this quote should be plastered on the wall in every teacher’s lounge. I think we often forget how much power laughter can have. It can alleviate stress, anxiety, nervousness, and can even be a bonding experience. I once had a speech therapist tell me during a difficult session with my hearing-impaired daughter to “pick your battles.” Before she told me that, I don’t think I realized how uptight I was trying to raise the perfectly behaved children. I see this in many of the classrooms I visit. I think some teacher’s fail to take advantage of a funny moment because they are afraid they will lose control of the class or encourage the students to be class clowns. I always remember a summer day when my three small children were outside playing in the water. The oldest one, probably 6 at the time, had unhooked the hose from the sprinkler and was drenching his 4 year old twin siblings with it. As soon as the twins teamed up and ran after him, he ducked in the house to avoid their revenge. This didn’t stop them; they chased him right through the door with the hose spraying everywhere. My first reaction was to yell or maybe cry when I saw the wet furniture and water dripping from the drywall but when I saw the looks on all their faces as soon as they saw me, all I could do was laugh! They had to help with the mopping up but to this day, my now teenagers still tell that story and say, “I still can’t believe what a cool mom you are.” I still pick my battles- sometimes not sweating the small stuff makes the day so much easier.

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  22. I have a four year old daughter, so being silly is something I do every day. As far as with my students, I love when high school students can laugh and play while in the classroom. One recent example is when I had students analyze lyrics of songs for the theme of heroism. One student came to me to ask if he could use the theme song from the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, “Shell Shocked.” I approved it and to see him present on the song was quite funny. He played the song aloud and even did some dance moves. The class was grinning ear to ear during his entire presentation. A lot of times, I find the high school classroom to be strictly business. But often times, random little acts of silliness pop up. I think it’s important to allow it to flow in your classroom because those are the kinds of things students remember. They might not remember the entire plot of The Odyssey, but they will for sure remember rocking out to “Shell Shocked” during English class! I also have students do a lot of vocabulary review games, which I would categorize as “play.” I have discovered that this is how they learn the definitions the best!

    Luckily, I have never had an encounter with a parent like “Mr. Fields.” But I have had heated confrontations with many students. I always try to remind myself that they may be dealing with something more than any teenager should have to. And if getting into an argument with me is their outlet for that, I would rather have it be directed at me than another student. Forgiveness has always come easy to me, because I feel like holding in negative energy is not beneficial to my personal or professional life. It’s important to not hold grudges against students and co-workers. We are all humans – we all make mistakes and have faults. I feel like I have a bigger picture to look at, and just because I may experience a small set back, doesn't mean I should lose sight of that bigger picture.

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  23. School is just so boring sometimes! Seriously, how can we make it through the day if we don't incorporate some fun and silliness in every once in awhile? It makes our day go better, it makes the students' day go better, and eveyone wins. I tend to be a very routine oriented person, so I have to be very purposeful about adding in some fun. When I am planning out my schedule, I have to stop and think -- hey, we haven't played a game in awhile or we haven't acted out a scene from this book yet. I would like to learn to be more spontaneous and creative about adding in the fun, but for now I try to plan it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I particularly appreciate students who have a knack for fun and I try to be flexible about letting them take the lead occasionally. Students often have good ideas about ways to perk up the classroom.

    As far as recovery, I too am fortunate that I have not yet had to deal with a parent like Mr. Fields. However, during my first year as a new teacher in a high school I had a confrontation with a student that still haunts me. I was already in a difficult teaching situation and having this student make it so clear in front of the entire class that she felt I was doing a poor job didn't just make me want to cry, it made me want to quit -- but I didn't, I persevered. I am still teaching at that high school and I have worked my way through the learning curve. I think people tend to forget that teaching, like any other profession, has a learning curve. I have never had another problem with a student like the one I had with that young lady, and while I seriously doubt that I will ever get the apology that Ms. Bearden got from Mr. Fileds, I know that I will never allow an incident like that to happen in my classroom again.

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  24. It often occurs to me, as a first grade teacher, that my students are six years old and if they participate in before and after care they put in a longer day at school than I do! This makes me aware that incorporating periods of play into their day is an important priority, so we stop from time to time just to move, sing, or by joyful with each other. I agree with other posters that there is pressure anymore to have everything you do meet an educational standard, but having happy children who are eager to see what happens next is very important as well. Of course play can often be combined with learning--we will be going on a ghost hunt next week, complete with a poem and a search through our room, and we will document our activity by drawing pictures of the invisible little fellow and doing some creative writing about our incredible adventure!

    As far as recovery, every time I've had a negative encounter with a parent (almost always by e-mail, which seems to embolden people to say things they might not if they were face to face) I ALWAYS begin with an apology. This is not necessarily because I feel I've been wrong -- I may well stand by my action--but because I regret they they were hurt or put on the defensive by what was communicated. In almost all cases, this defuses the situation to where we can go on and resolve it. I keep in mind that as important as their child is to me, he or she is even more important to them and no one really knows this child better than they do. Then listen to really hear what they have to say!

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    1. Your comment about beginning with an apology aligns almost exactly with one of the points in an inservice that our district had on public relations yesterday. Our apology is not necessarily to accept the blame personally but to reach out to the parent/student to show that in our position as teachers we are concerned that they are upset. The following was NOT pointed out at our training, but my experience is that many times the parents are reacting to the 49 other ways their child has screwed up and I happen to be connected to the 50th. (I had typed this below when I realized it was a 'reply' not a new comment.)

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  26. I think periods of play are really important for our students. It is always funny to me that middle schoolers try so hard to act like an adult and they often think they are mature (even if we see it differently) but as soon as you give them the opportunity to play, they become kids again!! My team takes a field trip where we go to the city park and have the students rotate through different activities. The purpose of the field trip is team building. Some of the rotations involve playing a game and it is really great to see them running around and playing. Very often we hear a kid say I haven't played outside in forever and they are only 12. We live in a world where interaction between people is rare compared to interaction between technology. Our field trip forces everyone to interact and play. We can laugh and joke around with students in a relaxed setting - it is nice to see our kids outside of the class room and it is good for them to see us outside the class room having fun.

    I really struggle with letting things go when there is confrontation. I often take the parent's complaints and anger personally because I do care about their child and what is going on in my class room. I definitely have to work on this. I do agree with the comments that have been made about starting with an apology. And I agree that the apology doesn't have to accept blame but its purpose is to diffuse the situation. I try very hard to look for a way or something to say that can take a bit of the wind out of the angry parent's sails. I think it really helps if you can get the parent to view the situation as "what will WE do to help your child or make your child successful." This way the parent will look at it as if you are a team just trying to find the best possible answer for their child. I also try to remind myself that the kid is "somebody's baby" and they just want to do what is best for their child. I too have found that the parent is often frustrated with the child and it comes out on the teacher. I also agree with one of the comments about "picking your battles" - this can be a sanity saver!!

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  27. I love playing! Instead of losing my mind when my kids are playing a game or doing something on the computer instead of paying attention; I'll click on their game through Vision, and take over their game and play it, or put them on the big screen, sometimes I'll open word up quickly, and type them a note saying, "HEY, PAY ATTENTION!" Pick your battles, and sometimes the kids realize its not a big deal and you realize what's important, and appreciate that type of playful redirection.

    "Fall seven times, stand up eight." Life is full of mistakes. I think most importantly when a mistake is made, you take responsibility for it. Take ownership, fess up, and don't blame others. Apologize sincerely, and then move on. I think if you do what is right, you can move on. I guess I make mistakes so often that it's not that difficult to forgive others since I believe we all make mistakes. Although, if you break my trust too many times, I can't move on, and will put myself in a different situation to protect myself in the future.

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    1. At the high school level, I think picking your battles in important. We have a similar computer program in the corporation I teach in, so it's easy to mess with the students when they aren't doing something they should be doing. It usually generates a few giggles, but they get the point that they need to work versus messing around. And sometimes that's easier than making a big deal out of it and writing a detention or something.

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  28. I believe that play should be for fun...I typically give a few reminders as to what areas of the room and items they can help themselves, then I just get out of the way. I learn so much more by by observing their interactions or even by watching student choice of play. There is so much to learn through my students' play. ( Some choose art materials, dress up and puppets, building paper structures, games, ) The mental and social skill development is exciting to see. Every year there seems to be more and more students who don't know how to just play or interact. They don't know how to play board games, put together puzzles, cut paper, or don't even know how to play with play dough ! Many a student has told me that their parent says it too messy or they don't have puzzles cause they take too long. What?!

    Soon after our days of "free play" time...I use the same materials and items they played with to teach mini lessons. It really hold students' attention. I use play dough to teach listening skills and vocabulary. For example: To reinforce math shapes and idioms, " Ill say, roll the dough into a sphere, now make it flat as a pancake." It is a fun way to teach and it is a fun way to learn. Students think it is all play. They beg to play that way the next day.
    Is it fun? Yep.
    Is it messy? Yep.
    Is it noisy? Yep
    Do they remember? Yep!

    I have always enjoyed turning everything into play as far as I can remember. It has always been my personality, and teaching this way comes naturally to me.

    So, what do you say or do when an educator says, "If it is not on the test, then I'm not doing that or teaching that." ??

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  29. I enjoy teaching 6th grade band because it allows for my silliness. I move around the band room while I teach, often with an instrument in my hand, and play right alongside the kids. When I make a mistake, I say oops, and try again. I am melodramatic when I tell them the words to “Go Tell Aunt Rhodie,” or how sad I am that they held out a note too long or played a song really well. I have been known to rap very badly during rests while students are rehearsing songs. I love to play on words and make bad puns. One of the songs in our book is “The Banana Boat.” Before we play it I use a very terrible Jamaican accent to introduce the title and to tell them to hurry and get ready to play because “they don’t want to miss the boat.” Some kids laugh at my antics, some just roll their eyes, but we all have fun while we learn.

    I have always been a firm believer in admitting your mistakes in the classroom. It has several benefits. First, the students will see that you are indeed human. Additionally, it provides an invaluable teaching opportunity as students discover that mistakes are a part of learning. As a band instructor, I hear many mistakes. I tell my students it is alright to make a mistake; it’s what you do after the mistake that makes the difference. Will you learn from your mistake or will you keep making the same one? I readily fess up to my mistakes, apologize, correct them, and move on. When teachers exemplify this behavior the students learn the best ways to handle mistakes, not just in the classroom, but also in life.

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  30. I am a teacher that (like some others whom have already commented) likes to start the year strict and I am always extremely organized. I do this so that students understand that from bell to bell we will be focused on learning Spanish. As the year goes along and each class begins to understand that concept, then I start to relax and enjoy my students more and more. Even though I am strict and want to use all of the class time I'm given, I do allow humor in the room, whether it be from something someone does or from what someone says (in Spanish). In Spanish there are false cognates and when someone uses them incorrectly, then I like to have the class share in the comical translation without making the person who had said it feel bad.
    As professionals, we shouldn't talk with students negatively about other teachers, but when I first started at Harrison there was a teacher (no longer employed with TSC) who had made some negative comments about me repeatedly to her students. To deal with it, I followed the outline of Matthew 18 for resolving conflicts (so I used the first two steps) and I went and talked to her about it...she didn't change, so the principal and I met with her about it...she didn't change, so I let it go and let the principal handle it and that is part (not all) of the reason she no longer works in our corporation. Although it didn't get worked out the way I wanted it to, I felt good about the way I handled the situation.
    On the other hand, I have made mistakes and continue to make them and my goal is to be humble enough to admit my mistakes (even to my students) and then ask for forgiveness. I have found that in the times I have had to do this, I have received very positive feedback and efforts from my students as they see that I am human as well.

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  31. It's very sad to hear of teachers negatively commenting about their fellow teachers, especially to students! Completely unacceptable! Sounds like you handled it exactly how you should, and it worked out for you in the end!

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  32. I am absolutely in love with this book. I don't know how I haven't read it before now because it is full of fascinating ideas and insights for teachers. I love to "play" with my kids in computer lab. We recently were typing some scary stories and lots of the kids wanted to type about blood and guts. We had a discussion about how blood and guts aren't really scary but things we don't know about can be super scary. As I was in the middle of losing my battle that things other than blood could scare you, I pointed out the spider that was crawling on a girls shirt. Of course she screamed, flipped her hair/shirt all over and then I said ""it's gone." I went on, and then said, oh wait, there he is...only to have more terror/screaming. Then I let them all in on a little secret. There WAS NO SPIDER! We all laughed at how scared those students were, how everyone was looking for the spider, checking pants, shirts, flipping hair, etc. I showed them that a tiny spider could have been scarier than a little blood because no one knew where it went! They loved it and then started in writing about spiders, mice, spooky noises and no one wrote about blood. Not a single story.
    As far as recovery, everyone makes mistakes. I feel I am very hard on myself and some days I feel like I should have done more somehow. I know it is hard to "forgive" sometimes but when those times happen, I pray about what needs to happen in my heart and ask for help from a higher power to ease tension and forget the issue and move on. I pray for courage to apologize when I am wrong and to graciously accept an apology when it is given.
    I think several people are hitting the nail on the head when they have written about accepting when you are wrong and admitting it. As teachers, we are also learners. When students see that, I think it gives them a new respect for you.

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  33. Being a Life Skills teacher, being "silly" and incorporating humor into the classroom is vital! The students feel better and perform SO much more when they are allowed to have some "silly" time. Often we will have short "dance parties" or watch a short funny clip on You Tube. This helps the flow of the room and the behavior in the classroom in so many ways. Some of our students re quick to anger and have so many issues outside the classroom. Knowing that they are allowed to joke around and simple laugh helps them focus when it is work time. Than being said, the staff in the room need to make sure that they understand the difference between work time and silly time. We do this in many ways. Routine and repetition are a key aspect to this. Following the daily, visual schedule is important. Another key to our incorporating productive fun into our day is when we do "Move To Learn" each morning. This five minutes is such an important part of our day. This always gets them up and smiling no matter how tired they are!

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  34. I think it’s important for our students to see how much fun we have with our colleagues and that we enjoy being at school! Our kids go to the cafeteria or the gym first thing in the morning and our pe teacher has upbeat music on. They are often in line dancing or singing…sometimes dancing with a teacher! Teachers and children often walk out of the gym singing and dancing and giving high 5’s to the pe teacher. It’s an upbeat way to have fun and start out the day with some silliness.
    Kids remember the “fun” things about school like the funny stories we share with them, the jokes we tell them, the plays we take the time to do with them, the learning games, hands-on-activities and the science experiments we take the time to set up.

    We celebrate the 100th day of school in grand fashion at our school! Most of us dress up as 100 year old men or women. A teacher borrows about 30 wigs from a hair salon and we really play it up with our walkers, canes, wheelchairs, clothes and “old voices”. We all have a lot of fun with this, and I’m sure it’s something the kids will never forget. Some teachers are hardly recognizable, but we all definitely feel like we’re 100 years old by the end of the day! 
    Our Kindergarten dresses up every Friday according to the letter of the week. For example, if they are working on the letter Jj that week, then Friday might be to wear your favorite jersey. Of course all the teachers do the same and also dress up when we have fun and silly spirit weeks.

    I’m not sure who said it earlier, but I agree that you need to sometimes give a conflict a few days to a week before you respond. If we wait to cool off instead of responding right away, while in “brain stem mode”, then often it will work itself out or you will just be a lot more level headed in dealing with and coming up with a solution.


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  36. I incorporate fun into most of my lessons where it is appropriate. When students say something funny, I laugh. My classroom has always been what I refer to as a “safe place.” By that I mean, we never laugh or jeer at our classmates. We laugh together, we cry together, we surround one another with love when it is needed. I have found that there is a fine line that could possibly be crossed if the teacher is not maintaining proper boundaries. I can almost guarantee that in my first or second year of teaching that I very possibly didn’t hold the space appropriately. There are not any specific examples that stick out to me when that fine line was crossed. Nonetheless, I do recollect a time or two that I did pull a kid aside and apologize for not handling a situation as well as I should have.
    More than anything, showing our students that we are authentic means more than delivering the best lesson in the books. It is important in any situation to recognize that we messed up; however, more importantly, we need to take ownership for our ‘mess ups’ and say “I am sorry.” Depending what kind of mistake we make as a teacher, depends on how we need to approach the situation. My first response to this question has to do with issues that are more personal. On the other hand, when we make mistakes that have to do with the delivery of a particular lesson, we must think quickly and move slowly but carefully to correct the error. We learn as educators to be good ‘on stage’.
    When it comes to forgiving when we are wronged, that takes practice and the ability to recognize that it may not have been about us to begin with. Learning to let go is a process. Life is better when we live a little lighter and do not allow situations to bring us down. Also, having an attitude of gratitude helps me to maintain my perspective in life and teaching.

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  37. I do agree that letting yourself be silly actually relieves stress. Just seeing the kids laugh is such a stress reliever. Our school has a theme each year, this year is Pirates, and some of the teachers put on a play once a quarter. The focus is reading and there is always a literary term focus (i.e. similes…). The teachers do a great job of teaching and acting. They are silly but this kids love them. Before I started working at school, I would come in to watch because they were so good and I laughed so hard.
    In the regular school day it is hard to relax and have fun, do to time and schedules. I have realized that I need to make more time for it. After reading this chapter I tried to relax more this week. Mine was simply when I read with the students. Using silly voices and encouraging them to do the same. To my surprise they liked it and wanted to read more.
    I want to do this more at home too. I have a 7,11, and 13 year old and homework is a nightly task that can be very stressful. Especially when I feel I need to get "my" to do list done too. I really want to change the mood during homework time and lighten things up by being relaxed and focused on them. When they grow up I want them to remember this time as a fun time with me and not a stressed filled one.
    On to the recovery chapter. When I am wrong I feel awful and make sure I apologize over and over again. This is a humbling experience but has to be done. No one is perfect so it WILL happen, so I need to take responsibility and move on. When I've been falsely wronged or talked to in a harsh tone, I have to admit I have a hard time letting things go. This happened recently at school and I harbored it for a while and nothing positive came from it. I grew more upset every time I thought about the situation or even saw the person. I have since moved on and in my heart have forgiven that person. I realized I wasn't targeted but was probably a result of an already stressed day and I just happened to be there at the wrong time. I hope that made since. :)

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  38. The first school I taught at in Georgia, I found it very hard to make the classroom a fun and silly place. I taught 4th grade, I was a new teacher, I was trying to establish a discipline routine, and we had a lot of emphasis on passing the test. I look back on those years and realize that I was a very boring teacher. Now I work at a Kindergarten and 1st grade building and I have learned that it is ok to be fun and silly in the classroom. I work with a wonderful staff and I have learned a lot from them about being a more relaxed teacher. I’ve also gained confidence in myself as a teacher, so I feel more comfortable in acting silly. Just the other day I was demonstrating the sound for the letter G by galloping on a horse. I pretended to be riding on a runaway horse. The students thought that was hysterical. I brought in a play horse and they each took a turn on the horse saying the sound. It was something simple, but the kids’ giggles where priceless and I don’t think they will forget the sound now.

    It is easier said than done, but Kim states in the last line of chapter 5, “Learn from it and then leave it in the past.” Teaching the kids this valuable lesson in the classroom will help them in life. Showing forgiveness and letting it go is a great way to show students how to do this. I have no problem attempting when I make a mistake or apologizing. At the beginning of the school year, a classroom teacher and I had a misunderstanding with a parent. We were able to straighten it out, and the classroom teacher and I saw the parent just yesterday and all was forgiven and forgotten on both ends. This was a great example for this student to see how to move past a misunderstanding. Because whether we want it to be or not, misunderstandings are a part of life and everyone needs to learn how to move on from them.

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  39. I have to agree with everyone so far. Play is SO important in the classroom. I teach 4th grade and silliness and fun are an essential part of our every day survival! I love to use different voices when I'm teaching, get the kids to get up and have a dance break with me, or tell each other jokes. I will do just about anything to get (and keep!) their attention. At times it can be hard for some kiddos to separate the play from the lesson but we're working through it. As I tell them all the time, we might as well have some fun while we're learning. Learning SHOULD be exciting and I want my classroom to be the place the students can't wait to get to to see what we'll be doing next. It can be hard to make rounding or fractions "silly" but I really do try to make it as enjoyable as possible for us to spend so much time together.

    I've made plenty of mistakes in my 13 years in the classroom and many more mistakes out of the classroom. I am a perfectionist and being "wrong" is so hard for me. But, even harder, is knowing that I am wrong and sitting back and doing nothing about it. I must set things right when I've done or said something wrong. It is certainly not easy and I usually drag my feet. However, the longer I wait, the harder it gets so that gets me moving in the right direction. I believe in second chances and I want to be given some grace as well. I really want my students to understand that it's OK to make mistakes and how to recover from it. We do a lot of community building at the beginning of the year to lay the foundation for kindness and friendliness with our school family. Nurturing those relationships helps the students understand each other and positive interactions are the norm. I'm not one to hold a grudge so it's pretty easy for me to "forgive and forget" when I've been wronged. I explain to the kiddos that holding on to those hurts doesn't change what happened. My most difficult challenge is giving myself the same leeway. I will dwell on my own mistakes for too long. Mistakes are learning opportunities and I try to lead by example in helping my students grow.

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  40. It can be really hard to incorporate play in a high school math classroom. I do try to have review games that allow movement, competition, and small group work (allows a little socializing). It I do this too often, the kids get bored. If space correctly, the students really respond. The trick is to give all members of the group individual accountability and also to even out the ability levels so all groups stand a chance of winning. I myself so not play, but arrange the activity so the students have fun with each other. This is how I approached raising of my own 2 daughters. So I behave the same way as a teacher and am a facilitator. When we have presentations of projects, I try to make a more relaxed atmosphere by allowing food and drink in the room. Then after the presentations are finished, the students get a little time to relax and visit.
    I really relate to the author's experience with the aggressive parent. It is easy for parents to only hear what their kids tell them rather than wait to hear the teacher's point of view. I try not to take things personally when a parent is angry as I have found the anger comes from something or someone else. As for the students, most students do not mean to be rude. At least this is the view I have come to. With this in mind, I am rarely offended by what students do in my room. I feel it is my job to teach the rules and apply consequences when needed. My rules are pretty standard and based off school board policies. I encourage students who are unhappy with a rule to speak with an administrator or to attend school board meetings in order to change the rule. Our school board and administrators have a history of listening to students so this is a reasonable approach. Being a teacher is a hard job where you need to listen to comments and complaints of parents, students, and administrators. When I listen with an open mind, I find reasons to make changes and therefore become a better teacher. When I am irritated or upset over comments made to me I fortunately have several teacher friends who can help me get over the comments and move on!

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  41. I try to embrace the silly moments as they come, but don't go out of my way to create them. It's hard when the program you teach is supposed to be very structured and doesn't allow for much flexibility (Read 180). However, I embrace the moments when they come up and insert some silly moments when I can. For example, I teach my rules and procedures using memes, to insert some fun into the rules. I embrace the silliness in daily writing prompts. I allow the students to write fun or interesting things related to our topics and then we share. Sometimes middle schoolers are quite silly in their responses!

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  42. I find it a bit hard to be silly in my high school Geometry class but I do try to show how much I enjoy what I am doing. We have quite a bit of material to cover and at times it can be difficult for my students. I try to structure my class so that my students have plenty of time to start on homework and realize they really do know how to complete the problems. I have had many students in the past state to me that "you really do want us to do well in Geometry." I am always surprised by statements like that. Of course I want you to do well!

    I also teach an upper level Geometry class in which the material can be quite challenging. These students have always been good math students but this is the first year that they are expected to apply what they have learned. They also have to prove everything which is much different than just getting the right answer. I always cheer when I finish a proof with them and say wasn't that fun?!! They look at me like I am nuts but when they are able to complete one on their own, they have such a big smile on their face.

    I have been very fortunate not to have any aggressive parents. I will always remember though my first year teaching and I happened to have the daughter of one of our school board members. She took full advantage of that fact and did very little work in my Algebra class. Her grade was reflecting that. At parent/teacher conferences her father who was the school board member interrupted my conference with another parent to talk to me. He was just so busy and couldn't wait until I was finished. I explained that she was not doing all the work and that was the reason for her grade. I was in so much shock and that was all I said. He thanked me and left. The next day though, she was removed from my class and put into the class of another math teacher. That math teacher had a reputation of being a very easy grader.

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  43. Kindergarten has become serious business over the past few years! Each year it seems as though these little bodies are required to master more and more advanced academic material. Because they are still so young, and our days are long, play is incorporated in almost every in every subject area! Blending words by reading off a dry erase board will provide practice, but making "slides" to blend words gives us practice and fun! Handwriting practice is essential, but putting handwriting pages into ziplock bags turns them in to magic dry erase pages (and dry erase markers are instant fun!) Using flashcards to practice sight words can be effective, but stamping them, unscrambling them, hunting for them, or building them with playdough is much more fun. There are times when assessments are learning have to be "serious", but I try to keep our days as light hearted and active as I can. I also have a closely guarded "station time" for the last 15-20 minutes of each day where children can do puzzles, read books, listen to stories, visit the science station, play with playdough, or visit one of our other stations in the room to reinforce learning we've done during the day, and also just to have that important social development time that can easily be missed as our kindergartens get so much more "academic."

    Recovering from a setback is hard, but honesty has always been my policy. If a parent comes to me with a complaint, I resist the urge to be automatically defensive and I listen to what they say. I give thought to it...I know I'm not perfect. If I feel like I made a mistake, I own up to it, apologize, and we move on. If I feel as though I made the right decision, then I thank the parent for bringing it to my attention, and let them know that I'm genuinely sorry that they were negatively affected by whatever happened. I try to remember that these kiddos that I teach are THE most important person in the world to mom and dad (just like my kids are to me!).

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  44. We are always laughing in gym. The gym is a more relaxed atmosphere then a regular classroom. And from time to time I will do something really off in a demonstrate to show that not every one has athletic ability and it is okay not to be really good in gym.

    When teaching math or reading just like in gym I purposely make mistakes. This show students that everyone makes mistakes and also allows me to know if the students are paying attention.

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  45. Play. It has been a while but a 2 year old grandson has helped. This book has made me rethink again and again ways that I can incorporate fun into everyday learning. It doesn’t have to be an intricate game or take oodles of time to prepare but just simple kids like to do. I have a lot of little boys who need to run around so this chapter made me think about how I can get them outside and yet learn as we play. Kickball and addition facts, jump rope spelling words, pass a ball and say the sight word…
    Forgiveness an absolute.

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  46. I love to have fun with my students. We have a variety of games to review Spanish vocabulary and grammar. The students love to play, and I like to see what the students have learned. Playing can also lead to learning. Some students actually use the review as a tool for increasing their knowledge.
    I enjoy joking around with my students. Sometimes being silly shows the kids that school can be fun and enjoyable. I enjoy teaching and laughter has a way of entering every class, everyday. I tell my students the first day of school that they need to laugh at themselves and when others laugh, we are all laughing together not at one another. As Stephen Scott VanDerAa mentioned, the Spanish language leads to many hilarious moments through out the year. I think humor creates a comfortable learning environment. It lightens up a few concepts that are complicated for students.

    I have made my share of mistakes. I try to correct any wrong doings especially if I have taught something wrong. I remember my first year of teaching and I taught the past tense of a verb wrong. I admitted my mistake the next day, and retaught the verb. Students are fairly forgiving.

    I do have issues with letting things go when I feel that I have been wronged. I need to work on this! As I get older, I do realize some issues are not really worth dwelling upon. Move on…forgive and apologize if I have done something wrong.

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  47. I have two young daughters and a husband that loves to play. He has taught me not to take life too seriously and to have fun in the everyday moments. There is nothing I enjoy more tan laughing and being silly with my family. Elementary students naturally like to have fun too and are great about bringing out the lighter side in adults. With the everyday pressures that teachers and administrators face, it is so important to have fun when you can.

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  48. Like a few others that have responded, I tended to have more fun in my earlier teaching career. Now with the focus so much on our state testing, developing an SLO, etc. I feel I have backed off on the fun. I have started showing two pun images a day to start class and they have started to look forward to them and they enjoy a good chuckle before class begins. When I read out loud to my struggling readers, I try to do as many voices as I can to entertain them.
    Moving on and letting go is not one of my strong points, but anytime I have a confrontation with a student, I try to make a conscious effort to engage them in conversation the next day with something positive. I don't want them to think I forgot the incident, but I also want them to know I have moved on. When I make a mistake in my classroom, which middle schooners are quick to point out, I remind them that I am human too and quickly correct my mistake. Trying to move on though after a colleague has wrong me is definitely something I am still trying to figure out.

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    1. I love your pun images idea to start class off with a laugh!

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  49. It is my natural tendency to have fun and joke around, but as others have said, with the mandates and other pressures put on us as teachers, this is slowly being whittled away. My administration knows me and my personality, so when we are doing goofy stuff and they visit, I don't worry too much. One of my favorite fun activities is our Bazinga! review, the kinds love it and enjoy competing and having fun playing. I have added a basketball style review to my class this year as well and the kids have enjoyed playing it too.

    I generally try not to let things bother me, but occasionally it happens. When working with students, admitting that you made a mistake and moving on is one important lesson I have learned - most are quick to forgive and forget. I try to do the same, there are times when it is more difficult than others though!

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  50. Knowing the difference between play and being playful is huge when working with students. If teaching is only play, I'm not sure we can meet the rigorous standards that are evolving. However, creating instructional strategies that are presented in a playful manner makes learning easier and memorable. Joking with kids, being interested in them as people, letting our students see us as humans with likes, dislikes, fatigue, energy....makes a classroom a joy to attend and to work! I would occasionally get bored and would change up the lesson plans for the day, but never abandon them. Adding accents, acting out the Salem Witch Trials (well, sort of), or badly drawing visuals on the board would help all of us through some dark, winter days!

    I made mistakes...and tried to correct them asap. Rarely, but it happened, I might miss a something. It is a very subtle, subliminal teaching moment when a teacher accepts humility and gives a student credit for catching an error. Often that humility is embraced by kids who are usually the first to say "It's ok. I make mistakes all the time." We are the ones who want to hang onto our disappointments and failures. The kids move on and we should file our losses away and prep for the next round.

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  51. This is the 3rd time I've tried to comment, and it keeps getting shorter and shorter. Ha. Play with high schoolers is a hit and miss. I appreciate the fact that I havent' had any aggressive parents -- knock on wood! Though I do tend to take things personally.

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  52. It is so important to "play" in your classroom. There are so many fun things you can do this time of year in your classroom, but unfortunately there just isn't tine. You have to make tine though. When I ask my own children what their fondest memories are of school it is often those playful yet educational times. I also think it's important to try to get to know each of your students on a personal level and make it your goal to connect with each of them each week even if it's such a silly comment that maybe pertains to an outside interest of theirs.

    I make mistakes and love to point them out to my students and let them know it's ok. Some of my students try to be perfectionists so letting them see I make mistakes too is a good thing. Thankfully, I work with a great team and have not been hurt by them. We'll see how the first round of conferences go with parents. :)

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  53. I use Give Me Five to get kids attention as they transition into library time. Well, the other day I was a little distracted when my 5th graders came in and instead of saying Give Me Five, I started to say Give Me a Kiss! Lol! We all had a good laugh over that one and I told them they could all blow me a kiss that day instead of our usual routine of Give Me Five. I think it's important to be flexible and go with the flow. If something funny happens, don't be afraid to laugh and have fun with the kids. Compliment them when they make a funny or playful observation. It doesn't all have to be so serious all of the time. And, honestly, those are the times I enjoy most and the things from which memories are made.

    Last year, our Title I Teachers came up with Jingle Bell Boogie Parent/Student night and it was so much fun. I got to read How the Grinch Stole Christmas and one of our 5th grade teachers was dressed up as the Grinch. The kids loved seeing him be so silly and playful. There were other stations, too, with teachers dressed up as pirates, maids, etc. Teachers enjoy playing just as much as students do.

    When I make a mistake in front of students and they point it out to me, I always thank them and apologize and make it right. I think it is important for students to see you handle mistakes with grace.

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  54. I had a poster in my classroom that read, "A day without laughter, is a day wasted." That saying really became the motto in my room. We worked hard and we took moments to "play" hard between. The students didn't always realize that the playing still involved learning.

    I can completely relate to the author's experience with the father and the "what is your problem with my boy?" situation. I had almost that same experience at a case conference for a student with his parents, school administrators, and fellow teachers. I just answered the questions honestly and remained calm through the entire interaction. The principals did not allow the screaming to continue and I was so glad. The author says, "when others treat us badly it is often out of misguided anger." At the time, I was upset about being yelled at and interrogated during a conference that was supposed to be about their child. I certainly didn't see it as misguided anger. But looking back afterwards, their aggression towards me and my fellow teachers was more about their son's impending expulsion than about us.

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  55. Yet another reason I love working with elementary students is their innate ability to not be too serious, their desire to have fun, be silly, laugh, and smile! They are the best daily reminder to not take myself too seriously -- which admittedly can happen easily when life is busy. When surrounded by little ones with this positive, carefree attitude, it's almost impossible to not also take on that same approach! This is often seen in my classroom through our silly songs throughout the day, the occasional teacher playing at recess with the kids-- kickball, jungle gym, jump ropes, you name it! After reading this lesson, I'm anxious to incorporate more "little" silly/fun additional to my lessons when applicable, such as she did with sunglasses, glow sticks, ponchos, etc. It is the "little" additions that can add the imagination, fun, and love of learning/memory for kids!

    I think students actually like to see teachers mess up every once in a while to be reminded that we are human too! Students take a lot of mental notes in a teachers behavior, mannerisms, and even tone of voice so how I react to situations that arise can be a learning opportunity! Although difficult at times, when messing up in the classroom I try to take a moment and model the process of admitting your mistake, apologizing, creating a solution, and moving on!
    As I have gotten older, it has become a little easier to start that difficult conversation with coworkers, parents, etc when a situation occurs. Never fun, and really uncomfortable when feelings are hurt but in the end it helps the healing, or recovery, process move a long a little sooner and helps me to not harbor ill feelings towards that person that can just build if you don't have that conversation.

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  56. The last time I laughed with my students was during a Homework Club lunch. One of the incentive programs I have in my classroom is a Homework Club. If you can get all of your assignments in for the week you get a little incentive; however, if you make it through the entire month, you get to have a lunch with me and I bring dessert. This time allows students to just have fun and talk to me like a peer. My classroom is pretty relaxed to begin with. However, we never have time for the small chit-chat. This opportunity lets my students be “real” as they say. The last lunch I had with the students was great. They asked me if I had kids, pets, and dreams. The best moment was when one student asked me what I was going to be when I grow up because his mom said teaching doesn’t pay the bills. I told him, I may not have a lot of money but I have you. Another student laughed and said, “That’s it? You get us? You didn’t get the good side of the bargain did you?” This just cracked me up. It was wonderful to see how students view the world and how they gain their sense of humor from all around them.

    Recovering from a setback is hard. Even when I make minor mistakes. I teach a social skills group first thing in the morning and we discuss whatever might be bothering a student from the day before or right now. One thing we talk about is being able to learn from the situation and how to move on towards letting it go. I always tell my students about stories between my family or my husband and I. I try to let them see that even as adults, you may still have little fights about things. You may have big fights too. We talk about how sometimes it is best to talk it out, even if you don’t want to so you can hear the other person’s side. No one truly knows what another person is feeling or thinking unless you ask. Many times, things get lost in what other’s assume is going on. We discuss how to talk and how to be considerate of others even when we don’t agree. It is a hard skill but it is a skill many students need.

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