Tuesday, June 9, 2015

And the award goes to...


I told my kids the other day that teachers love summer more than they do. They do not believe me, but we all know it to be true.

One end of the year activity I love to do with my kids is the "Paper Plate Awards". I am a poor teacher! I am not going to spend money on award paper they are going to toss anyway. These they end up keeping! I give each student a paper plate and a picture of another student in the class. They paste the picture on the plate and think of a class-wide inside joke to put as the award title on one side, and then a kind, endearing award title on the other side. Now I know it is not mind blowing, but it is fun!

For example, last year I had a boy who always fell asleep during read to sleep. His partner drew a picture of Sleepy, the dwarf from Snow White, and put "Tony a.k.a. Sleepy (Read to Self for days)." When this was presented, the whole class shared chuckles! Another funny one was for a student who got nervous around tests and would always let out the loudest farts ever. He would genuinely crack up at himself, relax, and then ace the test. His award read, "Gasman Therapy: A place where you can let it all out!" We were all laughing so hard we cried.

It is a fun activity to show the kids how close our community has been over the year and how we share inside jokes together the way a family would. I have been doing these now for four years in both inner city and rural schools alike and have never had anyone insult someone  or hurt someone.

How to do this: 
1. Pass out plates. 
2. Have students draw a picture out of a "hat" and keep it secret. 
3. Give them 10 minutes to come up with their inside joke and their compliment, decorate both side, and get your stamp of approval. 
4. Have students sit in a circle and present to each other (It is fun to have them try to guess who is being described). 

It is cheap, it is easy, and it is hilarious. Not everything you do has to be a World Series home run for it to be meaningful and enjoyable!

Mrs. Powell

Friday, June 5, 2015

Chicken Soup for the Teacher's Soul

My kids just finished their 3 intensive days of EOG testing and the poor things are wiped. They are also driving me insane! I love my kids and all but we are at the point in our year where we just would like to be done. I am sure you are there too!

Earlier this year, a teacher posted a neat activity that had it's fifteen minutes of fame on Facebook called, "I wish my teacher knew". If you haven't done this with your kids, please do. I did it yesterday and as a result, I was in tears all morning. Recognizing, at the end of the year, the impact you have had during the year is such a needed affirmation because there are days when you wonder. For me this came not through compliments about my teaching, but through the information divulged.

" I wish my teacher knew that when she tells me, "I love you" and I don't say anything back, in my head I am saying, "I love you more."
" I wish my teacher knew that my brother won't talk to me and I don't know why. I miss how we used to play and talk together."
" I wish my teacher knew that I am bi and I trust her enough to tell her."
" I wish my teacher knew that I am tired of my parents fighting over me."
" I wish my teacher knew that I am nervous to go to middle school."
" I wish my teacher knew that my parents don't love each other."
" I wish my teacher knew that the only place I can be myself is in her classroom."
" I wish my teacher knew that I cherish when she tells me she loves me."
" I wish my teacher knew that I will never forget her."

Now I am not an overly emotional person, but I was a hot mess. Never in my wildest dreams could I have expected what I got from my sweet kids (and even my not so sweet ones). After a year of working hard together, laughing together, learning hard lessons together, learning to listen together and struggling together, my kids reminded me that the content they learned this year means little to them compared to the community that we created together. This activity, that took 10 minutes from start to finish, unveiled the meaning of teaching, which in my opinion, needs to be done for teachers every year. You need to know how much you mean to the people you pour so much into; the children you can't stop thinking about, planning for, making sacrifices for.

How to do this activity:
-Give each child a lined piece of paper
-Write " I wish my teacher knew" on the board
-Explain to them that you want them to share something personal with you. Not something like, " I wish my teacher knew I like pizza" but something that holds meaning. Something that is hard for them to say. 
-Let them go to a place in the room where they feel comfortable and they will just go. (Two teachers walked into my room and asked what they were working on to keep them so focused). 
-Read them and be affirmed. 

--- A little extra: Write letters back to the kids to thank them for sharing and affirm them for their courage and for the blessing they are to you. 

I encourage you to end your year positively and enjoy your well deserved summer. I will be blogging like a fiend during the summer because I cannot manage to find the time during the year! Stay tuned.

Mrs. Powell