Monday, November 3, 2014

Crash Course a Week 9: Bonding and Creativity

This week we're discussing chapters 13 and 14, "Bonding" and "Creativity." How do you build relationships with your students and encourage them to focus on their healthy, beneficial relationships? The chapter on creativity has me wondering what activities you have done with your students that got some of your more introverted or non-participatory students excited and involved. Have you seen any students really come out of their shells due to something new you tried?

After this week we only have 3 weeks left in the book club. If you would like to receive PGPs for your participation in the book club and be eligible for the professional development grant, be sure you have commented to every week's blog post. Also be sure you have introduced yourself in the first week's blog post, including your name and school. For next week we will be reading chapter 15, "Improvisation."

66 comments:

  1. On the topic of creativity, I take my Book Club students on a field trip each year to help a book come to life. My favorite is definitely the overnight trip we took to Chicago. We read Devil in the White City by Eric Larson. We then visited several of the museums in the city, had a photo shoot with The Republic statue and ate cracker jacks while strolling through Jackson Park. The students really related to the experience and wished we would have brought parasols and period clothing so we could really take on the personas of the fairgoers of 1893. Another year we read So Cold the River by Michael Koryta (from Bloomington) it takes place in the French Lick/West Baden area. We spent a weekend at the beautiful West Baden Hotel and toured the Pluto Water museum. We learned a lot about the history of the novel’s setting and it was fun to watch the kids quote things from the book in different locations. I know this is something they will never forget and I honestly believe these trips help them use their imagination to the fullest when they are reading a new book. Another positive thing about the trips is the fundraising efforts that go along with it. The students raise all the money so it doesn't cost the parents anything and it’s also a great way for the students to bond with each other throughout the year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love these trips. I always thought a trip to Chucgao and the Devil in the White City would be fun and educational.

      Delete
  2. Relationship building with students start on day one. I encourage them to share things about themselves in their writing and during our small group discussions based on our literature. Students always have one day of "free writing" for their daily writing prompt and through narrative writing, I've learned so much about my students.
    Because character building goes hand in hand with so much literature, we also analyze relationships when we are reading and discuss those things in terms of our own lives and health.
    My students blossom and flourish under creative assignments. We were reviewing sensory detail and because I know how much my students just love talking about food, we created food menus using sensory detail. Seeing how much they really do love to learn when they have buy in makes the work creating the outside the box lessons so much more rewarding.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just came back from Bradford Woods with my students and feel like that experience bonded us. I learned so much more about the students because I actually had time to talk to them and not just give instructions or redirections. I had a lot of students who came out of their shell there. It was obvious who enjoyed nature and thought this experience was fantastic. I do feel like I needed to make the boundaries between teacher and student more clearer because after a few days, in my opinion, I felt like the students saw me as a friendly babysitter, rather than their teacher. Some students began treating me like a friend and treating me like a peer. Next time, I want to have a healthy relationship with them, but continuously set boundaries so the lines are not crossed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Charli- experiences that we share do bond us with our students. I have fun sitting at convocations and pep rallies, going on field trips, eating lunch with kids- it's great to have non-academic time to spend with them and share our lives.

      Delete
  4. I encourage bonding with my seniors by taking time when I am in the classroom and take a few minutes and have them go around the room and share where they are in the college/career process. I ask where they have applied, what they are currently working on and what they need help in or what they have questions about. I think they learn from each other and support each other in this way.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This year has been a lot different for me having the majority of my day with 8th graders rather than high school students. I have learned that 8th graders need time to tell me things, show me their magic tricks, tell me about their pets, recap their antics at lunch or something along the way they perceive as funny. I try to make myself available between classes for this side-line business, have my materials ready to go in advance so that I can give them their due before they eat into class time. However, I have also learned that one minute of well-placed sharing on their part during class pays off in the end in their willingness to work for me when I "work with them".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michelle SparlingNovember 4, 2014 at 8:27 AM
      Well said. Your last sentence is so true, Tammy. It is amazing how much students mature between junior high and 10th-11th grade. I have one particular 9th grader the last period of my day this year who still needs this time to talk to me (and sometimes anyone else who will listen). Sometimes I am in a hurry to get to my agenda; I have to remind myself that he doesn't get enough of an audience at home. He usually settles down and gets to work after he's had a chance to express himself at the beginning of class.

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I feel like relationship building happens very naturally on a seventh grade level. They ALWAYS have SOMETHING they want to share. At the beginning of the year I have students complete a personal narrative and "Life Map" which allows for them to share the MAJOR things about themselves they want me to know right away. This year there is a big push on spelling/vocabulary...at the end of the first quiz I happened to ask a question such as: what are you looking forward to about the upcoming weekend. Each passing week I continued to ask questions that allowed for them to share a little bit about themselves. Two weeks ago, I simply didn't have a question to ask them and I couldn't believe how disappointed they were...they began to rattle off questions begging me to allow for an opportunity to share. I love that this is something special that has developed this year and I LOVE the little notes I get back from the students on their spelling/vocabulary quizzes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't agree more, Melissa! Seventh graders love to share and they ALWAYS have something to share!!

      Delete
    2. Melissa,
      It is awesome when something little becomes a big deal to the students! I do miss the sharing with 7th graders. Sometimes the high schoolers are a little less willing to share!

      Delete
  8. Each year I teach the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. One of the activities that I have my students complete is to work in a group to plan a trip to California and back to our hometown. The requirements include: 1) the students must visit the John Steinbeck Center on their trip; 2) the students must plan and budget three meals; 3) the trip must last at least seven days; 4) the students must use all of their budgeted money for the group. Each student has to turn in an itemized budget and contribute a page to a digital photo album documenting the trip.

    This project is interesting to the students because they have to use real life amounts for their budgets: cost of plane tickets compared to cost of gas per gallon, cost of meals, and cost of hotel rooms. It brings out the same discussions that every family has before a vacation trip. Some of my students have been really creative in the ways that they are going to save money for the things that they feel are important. Also, it is a great project to teach about compromise. This ends up being a bonding experience for members of the groups and for me because we start sharing common stories from trips with family members. Last year, one group even asked if they were planning my summer vacation for me. It was so much fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I LOVE this project idea! I'm totally "stealing" it for next year :) Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
    2. Very interesting project. I'd love to add in Google Maps or Google Earth and make it like a Google Lit Trip with more detail. The could see street view images of each place. I visited Montgomery, Alabama several years back and got the address and/or GPS locations of many of the spots from To Kill a Mockingbird (or at least the spots they are based on). In class, I have the students plug those into Google Maps and see what the actual location currently looks like. I do Google Lit Trips with Into the Willd. I'm starting to get some good ideas of how to combine these projects. Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
    3. Congrats, Cathy! The teachers love this tip for a lesson! It is a neat project! And, so relatable and lets the kids plan a vacation. Most of them will have to do this at some time in their lives. In the meantime, it is fun for them to dream about planning a trip!

      Delete
  9. Due to the nature of the classes that I teach, Family & Consumer Sciences related, my students and I tend to get to know each other pretty well, pretty quickly. I share several personal stories with them relating to the content and encourage them to do the same. This does not happen right away, but I let the students know that I am a real person, with a real live family and have real experiences in life. This aspect reaches quite a few of my students, realizing that I have encountered some of the same trials and tribulations as they have. I also give them opportunities, within the content, to share things about their life through pictures, videos, verbal or written stories and presentations. I sincerely love learning about them and believe they can sense this. By connecting with them on more of a personal level, I have found that they are far more willing to work for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you that the key to motivation is connecting with students. Most of my students could care less about their grades. But if they like me, and feel a connection with me, they seem to be more compliant to do the work. Great point!

      Delete
  10. I am always working on building relationships. I do a weekend highlight time every Monday morning that allows my students to share what they did over the weekend. It's interesting to hear how they spend their time away from school. I also do a Kid of the Week which is a week of different activities that focus on a particular student. I encourage my students to get to know other students by choosing partners in the class that they've never had class with before. I have discovered some hidden passions from my students while on field trips. We take a trip to a Children's Museum as well as a zoo each year and it is neat to see how passionate some students are about a particular animal or exhibit. You don't always see that same passion for academics so it's neat!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Everything I do in my class is designed to allow students to embrace creativity and innovation. I’m currently reading “Linchpin” by Seth Godin which is about being indispensable to an organization and I’m having many thoughts about Genius Hour or 20 Time. I’m wondering if I should change the name of Genius Hour, because I'm not really focused on being a Genius or finding our Genius, but rather fighting the powers that cause us to squelch our creativity and produce.
    According to Godin, Steven Pressfield, in his book “The War of Art” coined the term “Resistance” for that entity which inhibits our ability to free our creativity, our great ideas, our insights, our generosity, and our connections. Over the years I’ve done the Genius Hour/20 Time project, I’ve found my biggest contribution (and also hurdle) has been teaching students to fight the resistance, many times showing up as fear and anxiety, and producing.
    Schools teach us to follow the rules and be compliant. Society tells us that if we go to our job every day, follow the rules, and do what we’re told, we won’t be fired. And, not being fired seems to be the American dream these days. Words like “being mature” or “being responsible” seem to be synonymous with cowering in fear. In fear of the Resistance.
    But, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about “doing your job” in a different way in her Ted Talk on creativity.
    She asserts that many masterful artists, poets, and writers see creativity as outside of themselves. We should all learn to see creativity not as something we have, but as something we accept. Something that we can all attain and develop a collaborative relationship with. However, we must show up and do our part of the collaboration. We must continue to write, or dance, or create art. If we do our part, creativity will do it’s part.
    In his book, Godin stated, “Fear of living without a map is the main reason people are so insistent that we tell them what to do.” Truer words have never been spoken. And, the reason is obvious as he goes on to say, “If it’s someone else’s map, it’s not your fault if it doesn’t work out.” I see this in so many students during Genius Hour. That fear of not being successful, that fear of someone may laugh at them, that fear of being uncomfortable. All those fears prevent students from finding that collaborative relationship with creativity and innovation.
    So, really I'm teaching how to fight the Resistance because that is truly what we need to be teaching our students.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great points and opinions! Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  12. As one of the few female teachers in my grade, I easily establish relationships with 8th grade girls who often are needing support, but don't think Mom will understand. I make it clear to my students that I have raised a son and a daughter, no nothing is off limits or unexpected. Because I create the surrogate mom persona, the relationship building is smooth. I often talk to them as a mom, redirecting their attention, scolding them for incomplete homework, and praising them for their successes. I know how they performed on the field, court, recital, or concert. I know who is running a mini marathon or acting in a community play. Often, these activities create great connections to our lessons. Then, the kids feel that ownership of what's happening in our class.
    A couple of years ago, my students wrote letters to the President, members of Congress, and to the State Department. One chubby, baby-faced 8th grade boy was surprisingly excited. He told me that he had always wanted to write the President, but had never known what to say. He wrote a great letter, which resulted in helping to get a young interpreter out of Afghanistan and to his new home in Indiana. The Afghan man came to the local high school to meet those students who had written letters on his behalf. My former students got the chance to meet him. I was especially excited for my excited letter writer to see what was the outcome of those efforts. His face beamed when he realized he had a part in saving a man's life through writing a letter to the President! This wasn't a major, time-consuming project, but was a memorable one. And one that elated a quiet, chubby kid. Good times!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is such a neat story! That must have been so great for the student! One he will never forget I am sure!

      Delete
  13. I feel like I’ve already answered how I build relationships with students in a previous post. To sum that up though, I believe you have to show an interest in students’ lives to make a connection with them. Support them by buying items their groups are selling for school fundraising, attend their athletic events, show an interest in what they did over the weekend, etc. We do a heroism unit and we often talk about who has made a difference in our lives. I love reading their essays and hearing them talk about positive influences in their life, because to be honest, most of those kids don’t have a lot of role models surrounding them.

    A couple quotes stood out to me in chapter 13, specifically about choosing how you spend your time, who you surround yourself with, and assessing if the relationships in your life are healthy and beneficial to you. After having my daughter, and now being pregnant with our second child, this is something I do constantly. I am a busy woman – being a wife, mother, teacher, friend – that I constantly evaluate who I’m spending my time with and how that time is spent. As one part said on page 135, if I don’t feel better after leaving an experience with a person, that is a sign something is off. I have let many friendships go by the wayside because of this. My time is limited, and I refuse to let it be spent in certain ways. The same goes for who I surround myself at work. I want people to inspire me and learn what I can change in my classroom; not listen to gripe sessions about administration, daily duties, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love to vent every now and then, but there are some who take this to the extreme and never seem positive. Those aren’t people I want to surround myself with on a daily basis.

    I do a character analysis for Lord of the Flies that involves students doing more hands on activities with characters, versus the traditional character analysis essay. This requires them to do things such as write a letter to a character, interview a character, and their favorite is the body biography assignment. They trace themselves on huge butcher paper. They then draw their character. They must include symbolic colors, symbols, and quotations about the character. Many students who don’t do well writing essays, thrive on an assignment like this. I love seeing how excited they are to come to class to work on their body biography. I don’t think they realize that they are actually learning in the process of completing the assignment!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your LotF activities. I always did a whole class build a society project. The entire class was given the task of building a society. I gave them some criteria as to what constituted completion of their "society" and then set them loose. Inevitably, every year, they start out working as a group, then a small faction breaks off until we have two or sometimes even 3 groups. Then I add in some resources that they have to compete over and that can get heated sometimes. One year, I even had a student form a dictatorship and "steal" his entire group's work. Fortunately, he let me know in advance so I could mediate his negotiated compromise. I then had them write a reflection afterward. I can see your activities being a good reflection piece to tie the book and project together. Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
  14. I agree with other post about middle school students (7th and 8th graders) - they naturally love to share and sometimes the key is getting them to share appropriately without taking up too much time!
    In science, I find students want to share about shows they have seen, trips they have been on that remind them about a topic we are covering; they even like to bring in rocks from their own rock collections. I have found, as many others have, that giving a student that minute to share and discuss with you pays off immensely in the long term. They know you care and are more willing to give you the effort you are requiring of them. I have also made ways for students to share and bring parts of themselves and their lives to my class. An app a week is a great way to get your techie kids interested. If they show me an app that is free or under $5, and I use it in class or share it with the class, then I will give them extra credit. This also gives a kid that might not otherwise share, a chance to be an expert. Giving students choice is also a great way to get to know them. In my homeroom, I will give students a chance to make suggestions for homeroom activities. This is a two-fold benefit: one, the student feels good about suggesting something we do in homeroom and two, my kids buy into the activity because they suggested it. Also in homeroom, on Fridays, we play uno tournaments. Lots of conversation occurs and I really get to know them...and they get to have fun with me in a more relaxed setting.

    I try to foster positive relationships among my students by pairing them for class work. I do this by ability, convenience and interests. I have clear guidelines for working in a group or with a partner. I model this at the beginning of the year and am very vigilant in listening and checking for positive interactions. It is well known that you will wind up working with lots of different people in my class and that everyone will be treated fairly and respectfully. Sometimes it is a struggle but more often than not they really surprise me (in a good way!). I think it is all about creating a positive classroom climate.

    I was at a workshop last year that offered a couple of fun ways for grouping students. My kids love it...I give each student a starburst (there are only two colors I am giving out) then they have to find a partner that has the opposite color of them. The other way is to hand out an uno card to each person. You can have them group by color, number, and you can even stack the deck a little to get the groups you want. There are lots of possibilities here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the Uno cards idea for grouping. I'm going to steal that one- thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  15. Bonding with students at times can be a difficult. But from the very beginning I tell students I will be honest with them and I hope they will be honest with me. Some of my classes I have had trust circles. Students can discuss anything in the circle and it does not go any further. As far as I know students have kept each others secrets.

    In my gym classes creativity is done with very little money. This past month we did Frisbee Golf where students were tossing Frisbees around vertical lunch tables and into basketball hoops. So many students were so excited to play and wanted to continue the activity into the next week. When we do the dance unit students have to create and perform their own dance. Students vote on a list of songs and have two class periods to practice their dance. They only perform in front of their individual class without any outside observers (including the principal). This is the one activity we do that students are asking about the beginning of the year.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am always working on building relationships with my students. A lot of my students come to class with "trust issues." Sometimes it's very hard to break through those barriers that they put up around themselves. I always encourage students to come and talk to me. I have had students come in during my lunch and prep so that I can help them with whatever they need help on. I encourage my students to make good choices when it comes to friendships. Some of my former students were in toxic relationships with either a friend or a boyfriend/girlfriend. I listened to them and tried to give them advice.

    When my class reads novels, I try to bring in props to get the students motivated and excited. For The Lord of the Flies, we break up into tribes. The tribes name themselves and create a flag that represents their tribe. The tribes compete against one another during different lessons. I set up a scene with a "fire", the pig's head on a stick, and use other artifacts. I also created paper puppets that the students use to review what has been read. For Julius Caesar, I have a plastic armor set that I have the students try on. I have other activities that I do for other novels as well. When I plan lessons, as previously mentioned, the students have fun and enjoy what they are learning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I vividly remember the pig's head from that book- the imagery was very powerful. It would have been so cool to have a visual of that set up in class!

      I also love the idea of the paper puppets- I'm going to try that later this year. Thanks for sharing it!

      Delete
  17. I just had a student today ask me if it was OK for her 11 year old brother to be dating a 16 year old girl. WHAT? Oh my. Kids definitely struggle with appropriate relationships and bonding. I see it more and more each year, students that want to be EXTREMELY attached to me because they aren't paid attention to at home.

    We are in the middle of a big creative project right now- the medieval castle. Students have a list of choices for features they must include (10 of possible 40 options), they can choose their medium (3-D with cardboard, Legos, foam, wood, even Minecraft or Digital Legos), and when they want to turn it in (anytime between now and the end of the unit in December). I have them use a rubric to grade their own work- based on effort and features included- but I don't force them to be 100% historically accurate but rather allow them to express their own personalities. I've had neon colored castles, Purdue (defeating IU) castles, Hello Kitty castles, you name it- as long as the PARTS are historically authentic and they can explain it to me, almost anything goes. This allows them to feel valued and unique. It's something they always remember from 6th grade, and anyone can pass the assignment, even my lower ability students.

    I have started dressing up in historical hats and costumes, feeding students historical foods, playing historical music, decorating my classroom with paper theme decorations (we have turned the door into a castle entrance with columns and portcullis gate, a dungeon in the corner with a naughty seat for tardy students, etc.)- anything to try to tickle their senses and multiple intelligences and make my lessons and classroom more creative so that the students have an example to follow in making their own work more creative.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Relationship building is one of the most difficult and rewarding parts of my job. I try to be fair to all of my students and I work hard not to have favorites. I try to think about how I would want that student to be treated if they were my child. I have found that when I treat students with respect, most of them will treat me with respect as well. I have also found that by sharing experiences with students and not being afraid to have fun with them helps to build stronger relationships.

    I have seen students come out of a shell and thrive. I try to build projects that allow students to showcase talents outside of the traditional roles of the classroom. For example, I have my students make movies. I had a student who was very difficult surprise everyone in his class when it quickly became apparent that he had amazing talent as a voiceover speaker. On that same project, I had a student who was special needs and very quiet, who turned out to be awesome at editing. Suddenly, students who had never interacted with this child were lining up to get help from him in finishing their own projects. As I get older and more experienced, I find myself becoming more and more aware of the diversity of my students and try hard to find ways for students to demonstrate their unique abilities.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is a WONDERFUL video! Every educator should watch this!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFnMTHhKdkw&safe=active

    ReplyDelete
  20. When I begin a year with my new first graders, I always keep in mind that they will be in my care for 5 or 6 hours during each of the next 180 school days, and its very important that we bond and form good relationships! I use a team analogy, and explain that I'm the coach and I'm in charge, and its necessary for us to support each other and work together as we move through the year.

    I'm a bit of an amateur musician and we do lots of singing and movement in my class. I've noticed some children really respond and light up to these types of activities, and its amazing what kinds of lessons can be done with this format. I also try to encourage lots of writing and story telling; at this age children usually enjoy using their imaginations but may balk at trying to write about what they come up with. I noticed that when I read the things they wrote to the group, they hung on every word and absolutely beamed with pleasure when I was reading their offering. So I do that frequently--it's worth the time! I also always read 'Library Mouse' by Daniel Kirk to the class. I then begin keeping a supply of little blank books made from colorful paper so children can write an illustrate their own stories; they place these in a special basket, knowing that I will eventually read (or let them read) it to the class. Not everyone takes advantage of this activity, but there are always several for whom this becomes their favorite free time activity, and its a wonderful thing to see!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Building relationships with my students has always been important to me. I like to get to know them and, in turn, they get to know me. They know they can talk to me if they need to, many of them do not have a male role model at home and they just want to connect with someone who will help them and support them. I, like many teachers, often don't refer to my students as 'my students', but as my kids.

    I strive to be creative when I teach, it is something that I am working on. This really made me think about Dave Burgess' "Teach Like A Pirate", creativity is not something we are born with, but something that we work towards. It takes deliberate thought and planning to be creative sometimes. The more we do it, like anything, the easier it becomes. I try to do fun/exciting science demos and experiments that get students involved in learning, but I am working on doing more creativity - I need to keep pushing and working!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I try to build relationships by going to after school events that students are involved in. At the end of the period when students are packing up, I walk around the room and have conversations about many different subjects the students bring up. I try to incorporate about four or five different expressive writing assignments throughout the year. It gives a chance for the students to show off their writing capacity in math class. It also allows the students to open up and tell my about their lives. I learn a lot of their likes and dislikes. I leave comments or questions on every assignment they write to me to reinforce that I do read their work, and I am interested in what they have to say. The writing helps me get to know the more introverted students better. Then I try to start more conversations with them and help them to open up a little more. I have been working on some more interactive and creative math lessons, but most are still a work in progress.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I feel like I am bonding with my troubled fourth grader. I take him for walks after our intervention group and talk about whatever is on his mind. He lives with his grandmother and has severe ADHD, but we are taking baby steps toward an improved behavior. He has stuck his head into my room before school just to say "hello" so maybe coming to read with me isn't such a bad thing for him! I have lunch duty so this gives me an opportunity to talk to students that I don't have in my small groups. I love peeking in the lunch boxes to see their likes and dislikes.

    I enjoyed the creativity chapter. It inspired me to think outside the box and to do a better job at making learning interesting. It just will take more time and effort on my part, but I look forward to it!

    ReplyDelete
  24. One of the quickest and most successful ways that I build relationships with students is by offering extra credit to anyone that speaks to me in Spanish outside of the classroom walls. I go to many events and students might see me around town, so this encourages them to look for me and come up to me to talk to me. We don't always only talk in Spanish but it gives them a reason to look for me and to 'want' to talk to me. In doing that I am able to build relationships with several students that may have been tough to do so inside of the classroom walls and only during the 50 minutes a day.
    Years ago a teacher I work with made me enough binders with songs appropriate to sing in Spanish I and II and so I have used it with the CD she made for me to sing with the students to work on their pronunciation in a different way than is traditional to learning a foreign language. In doing that over the years, I have seen many introverted students get excited about singing in the class.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just tried something new today with my Planning for College and Careers class today. We are finishing up the 7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens, and talking about making deposits in our Personal Bank Accounts. I had the students draw names to determine which classmate they would have to write an "I admire _________ about _________" The kids all participated, I screened their sheets, and handed them out to the students. They were so excited to read their statements that an anonymous classmate wrote, and really got excited. They spent the rest of the hour trying to figure out who got their name. It was a great activity. I plan on doing something similar for my softball team for a team building activity. While we've been reading this book in class I've realized how negatively the students think of themselves. I hoped to brighten at least their hour by giving them a dose of positive. I also gave them a slip of paper "good for one good deed." They were challenged to do at least one good deed for someone this weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  26. As I’ve mentioned before, having taught both upper elementary and now lower elementary, I have found that it’s easier to build relationships with my kindergarteners. They are eager to please the teachers. Building a relationship is all about making them feel loved. I celebrate with them when they succeed in the classroom and I give them activities that are fun and inventive. With kindergarteners I feel this is easier. I wish I would have thought more about the idea of building relationships when I taught upper elementary.
    I also think back to when I taught 4th and 5th grade and wish that I would have put more creativity in my classroom. I know the students would have been more engaged. But I guess that’s what teaching is about – learning to do things better year after year. I also think being creative depends on the school you work in. My current school has a principal that would support creative ideas like the ones mentioned by Kim in this chapter. But my previous school would not have been as receptive to these extreme creative ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I always try to listen to the students when they share information about their families, their issues, their opinions, etc. Learning about my students can be a great insight into what they like, what they dislike, and possibly what might motivate them in the classroom. I try to share things about myself as well. I've found that they really enjoy hearing and knowing things about their teachers. It's a struggle sometimes to listen to their "drama" about friendships, relationships. I try to give them the best advice and hope that they take it. Often, they have to learn the hard way before they realize that I was right.

    Creativity in the classroom is something that I've tried to improve upon this year. It's hard when all you teach is Geometry, but I have started Fun Fridays, which has involved dressing up like a Pirate, bringing the kids Long John Silver's pirate hats, pirate tattoos, etc. We also had Football Friday, where I wore a jersey, they played football with positive and negative integers, we ate pretzels and beer nuts and listened to NFL music! We also had a GLow in the dark Friday where there were black lights, glow sticks, dance music and cosmic bowling with water bottles. I even made their quizzes with neon sharpie markers which was pretty cool. Now, the students are always curious as to what the next Friday will bring!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Bond with individuals who fill your soul. Is my world too small or too big? Is it filled with people who add joy to my life or take away from it? I am responsible for all of it. We make choices each day as to how and who we let into our lives. But another question that seems to be bigger is: Do I add joy to the people in my life? At school, at home, at the grocery store, in my neighborhood…and the list goes on. Am I a bucket filler? Something to work on each day with purpose.
    Creativity. I believe that God made us to create. However the creative spark is often the thing that is extinguished first at home and at school. Why? Time? Energy? Schedules? I am pushed by this chapter to “create” in my personal and in my school life. Again, I am responsible for my choices.

    ReplyDelete
  29. It can be hard to bond with students in some of the larger classes that I teach (I have one band class with 44 students) but I have had good luck when I meet with them in smaller groups outside of our regular class. For example, there is a core group of students that join many of the extra band activities like pep band and jazz band. When we are sitting in the stands watching the game, we are able to talk a lot in between all the songs we play. I get to know more about their lives, and they begin to realize that I'm a regular person too.

    On that note, I have one 8th grade student in particular, who has been very introverted since I started with her in 6th grade. She doesn't like to perform her instrument in front of people, or play by herself, and had very few close friends. She didn't seem to fit in as much as some of the other students. But she always claimed she liked playing in band and loved music. This year, finally, I got her to join our after school jazz band along with one of her friends. She came to the first practice, very nervous, and not sure if she would like it. To compound matters, her one buddy ended up not showing up that day. But once I handed out the music and we started practicing, she fell in love with jazz band. She was so excited at the end of the rehearsal, I could barely understand the outpouring of words out of her mouth. Her mom said she raved about it for days afterwards. I am so grateful that we finally got her to even consider trying jazz band out, as she is now enjoying her instrument even more and is doing well in regular band class too.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Bonding: Building relationships with students is always important. Unfortunately at our school, I lose many of my students after the first semester and have to start again. I do enjoy the notes at the back of the chapter. I need to work on surrounding myself with those who fill my soul and those that I admire. Great advice.

    Creativity: I do find that creativity is the last thing I am thinking about when I am trying to plan my lessons for my Geometry class. I am concerned about them understanding at times some very difficult material. I am trying to find ways to simplify the complicated in the most time effective way possible. With so much testing and constantly changing standards, I am just pleased that they have learned the material. Creativity is something I will need to work on.

    ReplyDelete
  31. In beginning band class I use the “good neighbor” system. I have the students be a “good neighbor” and show their neighbor(s) the correct fingering for a specific note or where we are starting in the music. I model appropriate ways a good neighbor would do these things. When I notice someone helping another student, putting a stand away, or picking up dropped music, I elatedly tell the student that they are being a good neighbor. Many of the students sit by people they did not know at the beginning of the year and this is a great way to get students to talk and bond with each other. By the time they reach high school band, the students feel part of the band family. They have their group of non-band friends, but feel comfortable with their band friends as well.

    It’s not always easy to be creative in a band setting where the priority is uniform sound, but there are some ways to inspire creativity that I have used in the past. I have asked students to figure out songs that they like on their own by ear and share them with the class for extra credit. One particularly talented saxophonist loves the Legend of Zelda games and every week seems to be working on a different theme. He just loves it when I can guess the song. The band book we use has several exercises that allow the students to compose. I encourage students to share their compositions with their peers. If they are too shy to play it themselves, I will debut their creation for the class.

    ReplyDelete
  32. One statement on the Class Notes section on page 126, “Be kind to everyone-don’t judge.”; makes me think about the last few years of teaching. I try to be kind to all that enter my room. Sometimes students’ attitudes make this difficult but I do try my best to treat them like I would want to be treated in the classroom. I have several students that their home life is not the best. I try to engage these students in class and class discussion as much as possible. I try to do little things for my students (usually anonymously), just to make their life a little better. (A couple of examples: a pack of pencils for the student that never has a pencil or a breakfast bar for the student that didn’t have breakfast or is just hungry, lotion for rough hands, mints for undesirable breath…just things that make them know that you care about them.)

    I really liked the idea of the punctuation practice with pasta. I may steal that idea for next year when we are learning the different punctuation marks in Spanish. I love creating games and having students create different projects. Seeing students creating and enjoying what they are doing always brings a smile to my face and also to their faces.

    ReplyDelete
  33. As teachers, creating bonds with our students in an essential element of a successful school year. Some times it's easier than others! My favorite quote is "they won't care how much you know until they know how much you care". I have no idea who to attribute this idea to but it really speaks to me. I've seen it play out multiple times. For some kiddos, they come in the room ready to learn and have fun with you. Other students are more cautious and have to see who you are first. Those kiddos need to see my commitment to their success and how much I care for them as people. I have many students in my class this year whose home lives are a bit hectic and it affects their performance in class. I am sure to connect with these kiddos more often so that they can feel valued and important. Two of these students have really opened up and I love being able to offer them a respite from what is going on outside of school.

    I try to include as many games, crafts, and movement activities as possible in our daily lessons. In this way I can reach the variety of learning styles and hopefully hook everyone at some point in the process. My memory is not stellar and no single activity sticks out in my mind as an "aha" moment for any one child. I can, however, remember the laughter and happiness of my students as I show our new game or explain our writing craftivity. Those are the lessons I want to be sure to try again the next year to see if that class will like it, too. (Moving grade levels for the last 4 years has made that more difficult, but I am building quite a file of good ideas!) One simple thing we do every week is vocab sentences. My class this year loves to talk and sharing their original sentences that go with our weekly vocab words have been a blast.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your quote " they won't care how much you know, until they know how much you care" thanks for sharing that!

      Delete
  34. I build relationships with my students, and encourage them to build healthy relationships by listening to their concerns and showing them love. At the beginning of the year it is hard for some students to dismiss their insecurities because of being hurt in the past. As a teacher I must build rapport with these types of students, and slowly you see them come to you whenever they are in need. Then they see what a healthy relationship looks like.

    There are a couple of examples in the past when students really came out of their shells because of different activities, but one stands out to me. This year I held a poetry week of learning. The kids were really bummed and had a bad attitude about the poetry unit we were about to start. I found some really amazing poems about a variety of topics, and presented them to the kids. I told them this poetry we are learning about is whatever they make it, their own story put into words. The next day, one of my quietest students, came to me with this miraculous poem about her life. I know my mouth dropped open, but I was so proud of her I let her read it aloud to everyone. It really brought her out of her shell.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I build close relationships with my 10th, 11th, and 12th graders in Current Events. The nature of this class requires that students summarize news articles and then the class discusses the issues. My 9th grade English classes tend to be more curriculum based with less emphasis on building relationships. This realization has made me think that I need to strive to build closer relationships with my English students. If a student is involved in a school activity or sport, I usually know it. I read the daily announcements, I have a daughter who is a junior in my school, and I attend a lot of school events. As I read the newspaper, I clip articles that highlight student achievements, and I try to display these or give them to the students mentioned in the articles. I also sponsor a student column for our town's newspaper. I am always surprised how many people are reached through a simple column. This year I am also posting pictures and writing a short blurb for our school Facebook page. The students love to see themselves on the school's social media site. Posting projects is also a big hit with students, and it is so simple to do. I need to do this more frequently.

    Over the years different activities spark student creativity in surprising ways. Some years have brought unique opportunities. Field trips are a LOT of work, but they are always memorable! Students remember the "out of the ordinary" experiences, too, so I remind myself they are worth the effort. Some standouts included reading A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter and traveling to Geneva, Indiana, to tour one of her homes, followed by a presentation by a kind DNR employee who had the students dipping nets and examining the contents of protected swampland in Jay County. I have taken students to see theatre productions like "A Christmas Carol" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." And, thanks to grants fulfilled from Donors Choose, I was able to take four buses full of students to the Indiana Children's Museum to see the King Tut collection when it came to Indianapolis. These experiences have allowed me time for bonding with students and have led to creative projects when we are back in the classroom.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Since my classroom was a self-contained moderate disabilities classroom, the students have spent a lot of time with each other throughout the years. They have bonded over the years, but sometimes need to have the bond "rekindled." To do that, we have life skills lessons on what makes a good friend, how to be kind to others, etc.

    The students in my moderate disabilities class the past few years have really had a love for science. To explore more science activities and encourage their creativity, we have done mini science fair projects together in large group, with each child having their own project to also build or in groups of 2-3. The classroom aides worked with the students and we made it all really hands-on. Last spring, we made volcanoes. We learned about volcanoes, watched videos of erupting volcanoes, read stories, etc. Doing the projects allows the ones who are less likely to participate or be more outgoing for regular day-to-day activities, to have a chance to interact with people who came into the classroom to see our projects.

    ReplyDelete
  37. There are many ways that I try to bond with my students. One of the easiest and most genuine ways I have found to bond with students is to take a personal interest in things/activities that they do outside of school. We have a social club for our Life Skills class that meets once a month. Going to that and spending time with our students outside of the classroom is a sure way to build bonds with the kids. A few years ago I taught at a high school and we organized cookouts for the kids as well. Not only did this build relationships but we also used the planning piece to cover many Life Skills standards such as planning, cooking, paying for items, etc. It is so important to bond with students and let them know that this is not just a job for you but you are truly vested in their well being.
    Getting the more introverted students to participate can always get tricky. I think digging to find out exactly what they are interested in and using that in activities is my go to way of assuring participation. One on one time with them to talk and discover personal traits and qualities about an individual builds trust. When a students feels trust then they are more apt to participate no matter how introverted they may be. Giving those students certain jobs throughout the day can get them to be more interactive as well.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I build relationships through suggestion boxes, breaks, and fun activities. I like to have my students suggest ideas for learning. Some students want more games, scavenger hunts, songs, comic books, note booking, songs, and books. All of my students are different. In the resource, I try to differentiate as much as possible in ways that excite them. I also try to create activities that allow my students to come and spend time with me. A book club, recess games with me, lunch with me, and mini-tasks that I need done. An all-time favorite is recycling. Students love walking around the school with me. They will feel like they are ever so special to be able to bond with me while everyone else is in class. It is an incentive for students as well as a break for them. This has allowed several of my students to come out of their shells. I have found that many of my students are just masked by my students who love talking and working with others. Times like these allow me to focus on the “shy” students and bring them out of their shells and into the light. It gives me time to learn things about them that I would not be able to know otherwise. This is the best bonding activities I have tried. I have in return created many strong relationships.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I did an activity today where I used "hook" stations to reinforce pronoun lessons. I created 5 stations that included the use of playdoh, body art (washable) markers, computers, board work and manipulatives to make sentences. I divided the class into 5 different groups and set them to work. The groups were purposely selected to include both introverts and extroverts. Because it was a small group setting, the introverts became actively involved in the activities. I was able to interact with each of the small groups instead of the class as a whole. I got a better handle on who was understanding the pronoun activities and who needed more work.
    I want to get to know my students as much as possible, but it is difficult when you have so many students for such a short time. I enjoy going to sporting events to see the kids outside of school, that is when I get to know them the most. I recently chaperoned a fall dance and so many of the kids were talkative and relaxed. It was great to be able to hang out with them in a different environment than the classroom. I hope this shows the students that I am interested in knowing who they are in and out of school.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Building relationships is foundational. At the beginning of each school year, I ask my students a series of questions to help me get to know them. The questions range from how they feel they learn best to what their favorite snack is. I taught middle school for many years, so when I began teaching in a high school setting continuing with birthday treats could not just stop. My high schoolers appreciate that I recognize their day.

    I call on all students. As a high school teacher now, I did leave my Popsicle sticks behind. However, pulling Popsicle sticks with the names of each student on them was a great strategy. I have also learned of the years how to deflect the "I don't know" answer. I will say, "Well, if you did know, what would it be?"

    A few years ago, I did have a kid with a severe speech issue. However, after cultivating an environment where all kids are treated with respect and love, he began participating in class discussions. He was also extremely OCD, so he became my organizer. If he was anxious, I let him get up at appropriate times and straighten folders or books, etc. I tell my kiddos that we are all on the same team, like a little family or sorts which is why we laugh together and learn together.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Students bonding with each other is just as important. Instead of morning work, or before bell work, I encourage students to greet and visit with each other as well as with me. Sometimes we have a nice short group conversation. I am cued early to any issues that may manifest themselves later in the day.

    Creativity comes in many forms. It takes all types of creativity and teachers with creativity to reach all types of students. It is an advantage to have a large school community where students can be matched or paired with a teacher whose style matches a child's learning or interest. I actually enjoy trying to find ways to turn lessons in creative experiences for the students and myself. Often, though, my creativity gets messy and can be noisy to others....so that is a down side to why some don't attempt utilizing it, I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I have 4 different prek classes, 2 onMWF and 2 on T/Th;This year it is a total of 60 children. It can be daunting at the beginning of the year on how to bond with each student!! I have learned that I am really lucky because most children at this age will let you know EVERYTHING about themselves! I do take care to try and spend time, even if it is just a few minutes each class speaking with each child and remembering things that are important to them. As they go through their day with me, I try to acknowledge those things as we are playing, transitioning and learning. I only have a couple who are a little harder to pull out and get to know. It sure makes my day when I hit upon something that gives them a smile and I try to remember those things for the future. I am fortunate enough that a lot of the times I have these kiddos for 2 years. By that time I feel I have really made a strong bond and impact on them.
    I love Kim's view to surround yourself, personally with people that fill your soul. I have learned as I have gotten older that it is the quality of friends that is important, not the quantity. I very special person in my life (my mother!) tried to tell me this when I was a teenager and it wasn't until my 30's that I really knew what she was speaking about. Now I would rather spend time alone or with my husband and close friends rather than being on the go with many. I continually remind myself of what is admiral and try to be around those people to help me keep learning how to be a better person. Thanks Kim for reminding me to make that a priority!
    In Chapter 14, Creativity, I had to stop and make myself rethink somethings that I do routinely. I am very much like Kim where I like to have things planned and organized. I do feel I am fairly flexible but I do need to let creativity flow a little more freely. I have to do a lot of modeling in my class because children are just learning to print, draw and sculpt things. I do believe they need a starting point and direction. I am learning more though to let them use their imagination and let them tell me what they have created. Music and play dough are a staple in our classroom and this is where I feel I see the most creativity. I am making notes in lessons to make sure I allow for a little more time to let my children take time to be creative and feed their imagination. I need to get out of the box and so do they!

    ReplyDelete
  43. These are probably the two most important things I've read about. I love the bonding - it is what allows real teaching and creates the bonds that last. Some of the best things are the teaching of things that are not necessarily academic. I believe that is what comes from bonding.

    Sometimes it feels like the creativity has been beaten out of my highschoolers. I did an activity the other day where they had to describe a Halloween picture of a haunted house...plenty of places for their imagination to take them. It was so HARD! Very few of them could come up with adjectives to just describe the picture. I want to encourage this more in my class. Even though I don't teach creative writing, there are plenty of ways to encourage imagination!

    ReplyDelete
  44. I teach both Algebra I and Algebra enrichment classes. During the enrichment class, students spend time working on the daily assignments. During this time, I encourage my students to help each other with the assignment. I really enjoy watching my students work on the math problems together. They all learn more by explaining how to work a problem rather than completing problems on their own. I encourage this by helping one student and asking them to help others around them. The focus is for all students to finish their work as a community rather than every student for themselves. I have to watch to make sure students are receiving help rather than copying. Still, this community effort builds important social as well as academic skills. I arrange seating charts so stronger students are spread out in the classroom which facilitates this group environment also.
    I use group games to helps students review material for exams. This facilitates students working together and the competitive environment is fun. I use active games and some computer based games to mix things up. Usually the prize is candy which students enjoy.
    There are not many instances for a math classroom to encourage creativity. However, I offer 3 math projects through the Algebra I enrichment classes that offer some creative choices. Cartoons, creative writing, creating a board game are all options for my Fraction Project. Students also choose where to travel with a $2000 budget and can choose what topic they want to survey students on. I encourage students to choose topics they are interested in. I enjoy learning about my students through their final projects.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your suggestions about how to offer students some choice and creativity in math class. I know this involves some risks on behalf of the teacher loosening control, so it is great to hear from you some examples of how that can work.

      Delete
  45. I agree with all of the comments about helping the students bond with each other as well as with myself. I teach Freshmen at a large high school that combines three different middle schools. On the first day of school each year, I have classrooms full of wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights students who are scared and excited and looking to find a group. Since three schools blend together, I don't always know who is totally new to the area or what their experiences are. I think it is essential to provide some small group assignments that are a little less "academic" so that the students can talk and get to know each other. Also, I am lucky to teach a subject that allows for a great deal of large group discussion about a wide range of topics. My main goal is to keep the discussion respectful -- the students usually take it from there and it is fun to watch!

    All of the bonding leads to creativity. Once we have established a mutually respectful, encouraging environment, I can begin to think outside the box regarding activities. Sometimes we act out the plays we are reading and we use props and costumes, sometimes we take scenes from a book and draw them out in comic strip form, sometimes we play vocab or grammar study games that get them up and moving around the classroom -- but none of this is possible if I haven't created a classroom environment where the kids know and respect each other as well as me.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Reading through others comments really opened my eyes to ways I am encouraging students to develop relationships with their peers and myself, as well as to new ways that I could adapt and try in kindergarten! All kids are a little uneasy when they enter kindergarten, some for an hour while others for a month! I use the strengths and weaknesses of each student and provide opportunities, such as classroom jobs! This provides each child with a purpose every day, a feeling of independence, and opportunities to bond with different students - some that they may not have had the courage to talk to!
    After a mini-lesson and modeling the skill that I am introducing, I like to incorporate various centers into my daily learning! This allows every student the opportunity to find the activity that interests them the most while still achieving the same end result of learning the modeled skill! I am always watching and tracking which centers the students gravitate to! While some students are great about rotating and going to each center, others students need encouragement to branch out and try new things!
    This is one place I have really seen some students come out of their shell! A center or activity, such as writing table, may really intimidate a child, but once there and over the initial fear, they realize it is fun and they are good at it! It is very rewarding to seem these realizations and growth throughout the year!

    ReplyDelete
  47. I agree with all of the other comments about the importance of building relationships. I try hard to build bonds and find each students interests so I can better relate to them. I've found that the students that are harder to "reach" are often the ones that need those close bonds. I have one particular student that struggles socially with adults and I've found ways to help him overcome that with me, just by talking and joking with him.
    Creativity: Something I need to work on. Since I only have small groups at a time, I have tried acting things out. Poetry readings and a few other things. Since I'm not a classroom teacher and only have the students for a short period of time, creativity is a little hard to fit in.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I see about 900 kids a week so bonding for me starts with knowing all of the students by name so I can say Hi when I see them in the library, the hall or the grocery store. I also bond with students as I check out their books and talk to them about what they're reading and ask them individually how they are doing. I have several students who stop by in the morning and afternoon for their daily doses of hugs. I also try to recognize students for achievements that I hear about that they have accomplished inside the classroom and out. I think bonding with students starts with caring about each of them as an individual and I try to do this as much as time allows.

    I like to do Reader's Theater for How the Grinch Stole Christmas around Christmas time with the 5th graders. It always surprises me the ones who really get into it and use expression and voice characterization.

    I enjoy reading how creative the teachers at RCA are and it is inspiring. It makes me stop and think how I could incorporate more creativity into my lessons and allow for more student expression. It is just really hard when you see students for only 30 minutes once a week.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I teach kindergarten, and I begin each school year with a family theme. We all bring pictures in of our families, and we take turns showing them and telling about them. We learn about all types of families....our families at home, our extended families, our church families, and finally our school family. I hang all of the pictures of families up on a bulletin board, along with a new picture of all of us...our school family! I really promote the idea of school family, and teach the children that we will treat each other and our school just the way we treat our homes and our families! Because all day school is new for many of my students, this idea of family is comforting to them and allows them to bond with their classmates and their new school environment.
    One of my favorite ways to get my more introverted students involved and excited is through our writer's workshop. Each day, my young students write for a set amount of time, and when the time is up, we have a sharing time. For the first few minutes, we have a partner share, and my class is just buzzing with descriptions about what they are working on. Some children have full sentences written with beautiful detailed illustrations, and some are still developing those skills, but they ALL love sharing their ideas. After the partner share, each day 2-3 students are chosen to sit in the "author's chair" to read their entry for the day, and listen to comments and answer questions from peers. Children at all developmental levels always love this process, and they grow in so many ways through it during the school year

    ReplyDelete