Skip to main content

Closing Circle

At the end of the day we have a closing circle in my classroom. It is intended to give the children and me a moment of quiet and reflection at the end of the day in the same way that morning meeting energizes us to spend the day learning and playing together. Depending on how much time we have for closing circle - I find that 5 - 7 minutes is just right - we may do a quick check in about our day by putting our thumbs up for an excellent day or thumbs sideways for a good or OK day. If we are not rushed then I will may ask the kids to answer the following question: what will you share about your day with your families tonight? Lately, we've been doing appreciations or thank you's. The only provisos are that you appreciate someone who is present in the room, that you start your appreciation by saying, "(Child's name), I appreciate you for...", and that you look that person in the eyes as you speak to them.

I've noticed that the children's comments have been limited to appreciating their friends for playing with them at recess. As a start this was OK but I remind them to notice what others do during the day that merits an appreciation. The day I mentioned this there was a flurry of appreciations related to other than recess play but that didn't go any further than that moment. I have tried to remember to talk about this at morning meeting but I haven't been successful. I will be writing this down on my first day plan back to school in January.

Our last closing circle before the winter holidays reminded me to remain vigilant of everything that we do in the classroom for how it affects the children, either positively or negatively. Here's what happened: one little girl appreciated a classmate for playing with her and the child being appreciated breathed a big sigh of relief and said, "Finally! Someone's appreciating me!" My heart sank at the same moment that I recognized a teaching opportunity and before the next child could hurry in to get his appreciation, I said: "OK. Let's stop for a moment, here. Susan (not the child's real name), how did it feel to be appreciated?" She said, "Good." Not a very deep response but nevertheless it gets at the core of how it feels for others to show their appreciation for us: it feels good. I then reminded the children to notice others' actions during the school day and to remember to appreciate those children during closing circle. It always amazes me how just when you think they haven't noticed or don't seem to care they really do.

I will help the children make a list of things that others do that merit an appreciation, either publicly or privately, and point these out when I notice them in the classroom. Hopefully, their appreciations will become more genuine over time. Just like math and reading, social interactions need to be modelled and taught.

On a last note...a few days one one of my more challenging students went up to a parent who had given a presentation on her work to our class that morning, and said: "I want to give you an appreciation. I appreciate you for coming to our class and teaching us about the operating room."

Such are the melodious moments of teaching.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Mini Lessons

Sometimes, I plan too many teaching points for one lesson. For example, instead of focusing on one strategy that students need in order to become more proficient readers and writers, I try to teach several strategies at the same time. 

Sometimes, I stretch out a teaching point beyond the 10- or 12-minute time limit I've given myself because I worry that my mini lesson wasn't enough or my students won't have understood what I intended to teach. So, sometimes, I beat the lesson to a pulp one too many times, or forget to have the kids practice the lesson before they go off to read or write. (Asking students to practice a lesson after you teach it, with you right there to observe and help guide students through the process, is very effective. Try not to skip this step!)  

Here's an example of a mini lesson that lasted less than 10 minutes and resulted in better learning.

My students are in the second round of historical fiction book clubs. In a couple of weeks, we will start …

A Confession

I have a confession to make.

I want to write a book. 
A professional book. 
I think I have a lot to say. 
I think others could benefit from my experience.
After all, I have been an educator for over 30 years.

But, what could I possibly say that hasn't been said before?
What new knowledge could I add to the table?
Who would even bother to read what I have to say?

These are questions borne of fear.
Fear of not being good enough.
Fear of not being able to complete such a daunting project. 
(At least, that's what it feels like to me right now.)
Fear that I won't make time.
Fear that I'll run out of time.

But, over the last couple of days, I've gotten some encouraging words of support from the Innovative Teaching Academy - 
#ITA17 Facebook group. 

You can do it!Write for yourself.
But the message that is propelling me forward is this one: 
It doesn't matter how many times something has been said...each time someone else says it, new people hear it...and that's where you make the d…


Today's post is short and sweet because I just got back from a night of playing Bunko with friends. 

I share some questions I'm grappling with in my classroom. 

No answers. 

Just questions.

(1) What purpose do math stations serve in my classroom?

(2) How can I continue to engage writers without overwhelming them or me?

(3) How can I determine if my tangled readers are learning to be better readers from the books they choose to read?

(4) How can I strike a balance between student choice and making sure my students learn what they need to learn at any given time?

(5) Am I demanding too much from my students?

As I find responses and solutions to these issues, I will post some ideas on my blog.

Any thoughts are more than welcomed!