Thursday, 15 May 2014

Don't be a kangaroo!

Testing is finished!

We are done! 

All of everyone's hard work (children and adult) from the past four years, summed up into 5 different test papers, each over and done with in less than one hour. This morning, I couldn't help but feel a little disheartened (although proud - very proud!).

However, this afternoon, a great gang of college kids came to school to do some sporting activities with our exhausted kiddies, which they loved. As the afternoon progressed and I watched them laugh, run, tease, lead, play, talk, plan, win, lose, comfort, encourage, support, strategise (and enjoy themselves), I started to change my point of view.

What will be will be, and I'm sure they've done brilliantly. But... regardless of the results, all that work has not been in vain, nor does it stop now. Everything they have learnt will go with them into the next stage of their life and we now get to spend the final 8 weeks valuing their other skills.

How sad for O, that she worked so hard but still struggled all this week. That she spent the year losing confidence but gaining in fear about what was coming. That she forgot what a great leader and friend she is but remembered that she didn't know her 3x table.

Well now it's time for a change. Time for her, and all the others, to shine!

My colleague sent me a link to this beautiful video:

It absolutely sums up what the next 8 weeks need to be about. Remembering that all children are unique, talented and special and that our success is not determined by our ability to write an essay, comment on an author's use of imagery or multiply 29 by 316.

Instead, our success is measured in myriad ways. Ooey Gooey sums it up nicely here and, in the meanwhile, I am so, super excited about our summer curriculum and giving them all something to be excited, proud and successful in!

And now, a special note to any of my kiddies, who are reading this...
Well done all of you, so much, on everything you have achieved this year. It has all contributed to making you the wonderful, funny, kind and dedicated young people you are today, and I can't wait to share our final few weeks together. Let's make them the best yet! 
Love from Miss O 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Sorry seems to be the hardest word...

Every class has one. Let's call him Fred. The puppy-eyed, angel-faced, 'wouldn't-hurt-a-fly' Fred, who "would never have pushed little Timmy down Miss because that would be a bad thing."

As soon as your back is turned, thud goes Timmy.

Well, my Fred definitely didn't push Timmy over today, or call him names, or snatch the ball from him. No sirree!

Luckily, I had spent last night reviewing our Behaviour Management Policy and looking around at a more meaningful way to deal with inappropriate choices. Joelen, from cuppacocoa, explains it beautifully in her post: A Better Way to Say Sorry. Her post gave me lots of ideas, particularly about following through any incident with a chance to properly apologise.

A proper apology doesn't mean saying "Sorrrrrryy" or "Soz" or "Sorreeeee" or any of these permutations. It involves:

1. Taking responsibility for what you did... "I'm sorry that I..."

2. Understanding why this was wrong... "This was wrong because..." (note - it is not wrong because you got caught or 'Shouldn't have,' or because you're being told off!)

3. Explaining how you will change your actions in the future... "Next time, I will..."

4. Asking for forgiveness. As Joelen put it:

This is important to try to restore your friendship. Now, there is no rule that the other person has to forgive you. Sometimes, they won’t. That’s their decision. Hopefully, you will all try to be the kind of friends who will forgive easily, but that’s not something you automatically get just because you apologized. But you should at least ask for it.

Anyway, I really liked her approach.  I love that it actually made the children think about what happened, their choices and the consequences of those choices. So when Fred knocked Timmy down and proceeded to tell me that he hadn't done anything wrong, I took him slowly through the apology procedure.

I actually used this program from Kids Skills...

... which took us through the whole process and made it very clear.

After a really formative, restorative and useful discussion, Fred had produced this:

Now Fred is quite a lad and I tried to make it very clear throughout the apology-writing that, this time, he did not have to actually give it to Timmy but that we wanted to think about his actions.

Imagine my pleasure and surprise when, at the end of the exercise, he desperately wanted it printed and to present it to Timmy. I could not have been prouder!

This strategy is now going to become an integral part of our behaviour management in Upper Phase and I cannot wait to see how the children take it on!

I'm currently setting up next year's planner and think I'm going to include a tracking section for apologies and behaviour management, that way I'll be able to see how much progress they make over the year. I'll post it here along with my new planner review as soon as it arrives!