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

The Teacher I Want to Be

I have been dismayed to realize that despite my self-image as a teacher with a learner centered classroom, I am far from truly achieving that goal. 

I have been listening carefully to myself lately, and I don't like what I hear myself saying to the kids. Instead of empowering my students to take ownership of their learning, I am still the director on the stage. I still ask leading questions rather than ones that push the learner to figure things out for herself. I realize I often spoon feed my students hopeful that they will give me the answer I'm looking for. An answer that will make my job easier. Answers that will fit with what I expect students to say despite the fact that 30 years in education has taught me nothing if not that students are unpredictable, and if we prepare for anything, that is what we should be prepared for. 
An anecdote. The other day I was talking with a student about the fact that she was abandoning more books than she was finishing. I was as…

Searching for Balance

I have been doing a lot of soul searching over the last couple of days. 
And, I've come to the conclusion that I must change my attitude - shift my stance - so I can assume a new perspective. So that I am more aligned with what's important and may add value to my life.  
Focusing on the negative is not making me stronger or healthier. In fact, I am often stressed because I worry a lot about unimportant things. I obsess over situations out of my control. I dismiss positive experiences that would help lift my spirits and align my focus towards what's important. 
I need a distraction from my own thoughts.
I need balance in my life. Not because I work hard to prepare my classes. Not because I read a lot of professional literature. Not because I wrote a lot this summer and will continue to do so now that school has started. But because I have been obsessing on the wrong things. Mostly, I obsess about what someone said or did and what it says about me as a teacher. I obsess about …

Sitting in My Usual Spot

I am sitting in my usual spot.
At least it has been my usual spot for about a week now.
It has become my work space.
It's where I sit to participate in online summer PD activities.
It's where I read.
It's where I write.

My usual spot is in a corner of the couch.
The arm rest is unusually wide.
I can pile my books, notebooks and even my laptop there.
And, I do.

I used to have a more conventional work space,
but then my husband, who works from home,
and was struggling to stick to his side of the desk,
finally spread out,
invading my work space.

One day, after many attempts at getting organized,
and not succeeding,
he told me that he was going to add an extension to our house,
so I could have my own work space.
I told him it was cheaper to tidy up.
That was months ago.

Before claiming my usual spot,
I set up a temporary, wobbly table against a wall in my bedroom
for a work space.
I used that for a few months.
Not ideal, but better than nothing.

I've reclaimed my conventio…