Thursday, September 20, 2018

Classroom Mojo

Finally! The school year has progressed long enough that rapport has been established and students are comfortable enough within the classroom to participate in self-sustaining discussions, bravely stroll out of their shells a time or two, and speak frankly with teachers. Every year I wonder if I can manage to create the same climate and culture that the previous classes and I enjoyed. And every year, I am amazed that new dynamics are forged and new classroom atmospheres are created in ways I hadn’t expected. Classroom mojo is such an invigorating energy!

We are also approaching the time that reality truly begins to set in that the “real work” lies ahead. Novelty has worn off, content reviews finish, and schoolwork can easily begin to pile up for teachers AND students. Student issues begin to surface. Students procrastinate. Grumbling is turned up a notch or two. Impatience germinates.  Jimmy Casas states in his latest book, “Culturize,” that no matter what, no matter who, no matter when, we must be champions for all students. He includes this quote:

The moment you are ready to quit is usually the moment right
                                                before a miracle happens. Don’t give up.


Let’s never forget to champion for our students. Let’s believe that there is more inside each one than he or she may even realize. Let’s be that one person who has a smile just before the miracle happens for them. May each of our classroom environments inspire troubled students that there will ALWAYS be a caring teacher who is honest, empathetic, fair, and dependable. After all, we know that it takes just one person to help channel a child’s resilience, turning a struggle into a victory.

1. What is your favorite part of a beginning school year?
2. How do you know the reality of the school year has hit?
3. How can new school year excitement be reengaged later on?
4. When you were a student, how did you feel when an adult championed or advocated for your best interests?
5. Taken from “Culturize,” when was the last time you advocated for a student? What was the result?

Authored by Emily Jacobsen ~ September 20th, 2018

Thursday, September 06, 2018

A Note in Passing

My morning began with one of my Homebase students handing me a note. It had “please read” written on it. In the letter, she detailed her battle with anxiety and depression and asked that I inform the team teachers. I was astounded by the courage it must have taken to write and deliver that note so early in the school year. Previous experiences made me believe that students struggling with similar issues would do their best to blend into the crowd and try not to be noticed; that they would rather enter their shell and shut down than open up and share out. But not this student. This student chose courage over comfort. She embraced her vulnerability. She told her story and invited me in to help guide her journey.

This summer I was introduced to a Ted Talk by Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor and expert on vulnerability. In the talk, Dr. Brown discusses grappling with her own vulnerability and living wholeheartedly. I spent the rest of my summer and the beginning of the school year thinking about my own vulnerability and noticing when others allowed themselves to be “seen.”

Brené Brown | The Power of Vulnerability | TED Talk

As school started, I realized that we ask students to be vulnerable every day when we have them...
  • Sit by someone new
  • Attempt a task
  • Read aloud
  • Collaborate with peers
  • Apply their knowledge
  • Share an answer in front of the class

In her book Rising Strong Brené Brown shares, “vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” There is comfort in fading into the crowd, in not being noticed. What made this student choose courage? I believe that key to her courageous act was the mentoring and modeling of vulnerability by a caring adult.

We model what we expect of our students.

When I ask them to read I model reading.
When I ask them to write I model writing.
When we ask them to follow expectations we model the expectations.
When we ask them to be kind and caring we model kind and caring.

Do we model vulnerability when we ask them to be vulnerable?

Twitter Tuesday Questions
  1. What gets in the way of students being vulnerable?
  2. What gets in the way of teachers being vulnerable?
  3. How can we model vulnerability for our students?
  4. What steps have you taken to create a learning environment in which students can be vulnerable?
  5. What is one way that you plan to embrace your vulnerability moving forward?