Friday, January 27, 2012

Kinley Speaks (Sort Of)

Many of you have asked me what Kinley thinks of my blog.  Frankly, I've kind of wondered the same thing.  She knows it exists and has sometimes said, "You're not going to blog about that, are you?"  But otherwise, she hasn't said diddly squat.  I have toyed with the idea of having her be a guest blogger someday, but I was thinking that maybe I'd do that at the end.  Sort of a big finish/blog farewell/wrap up kind of thing.

Well, recently as I was working on an upcoming blog draft, I had to leave my computer to go and help Knox.  While I was gone, Kinley hijacked my draft.  Here are her revealing, perceptive, well-thought-out, and grammatically flawless comments. 
Kinley Abigail Boyd is the best student in the world, she always gets good grades and she is VERY responsible!!!!!!!!!!She is a great friend! She always does her job as class president, I am thinking about rehiring her next semester. She is an outstanding student! I would love to have her in my class again. She would be my pride and joy!!! I am sad that I have to let her go this year!! She is the best student I have ever had!! She deserves to be banker next semester. Maybe even homework checker! She should get an extra $100.00 every day.(maybe even $1,000.00)She still is my pride and joy!!! She is the only student in the class that I can trust and also know that she will always be silent. Kinley Abigail Boyd Kinley Abigail Boyd Kinley Abigail Boyd Kinley Abigail Boyd She is awesome! She should be advanced to 12th grade.
OK.  So maybe, "revealing, perceptive, well-thought-out, and grammatically flawless" is a tad sarcastic.   

I think it’s funny that she chose to write from my perspective (as if you'd all be fooled into thinking her writing was mine - I NEVER use capitalization for emphasis or employ excessive exclamation points!!!!!).  And the part about being able to trust her to always be silent?  Where in the world did that come from?  I also think it’s funny that she didn’t choose to write about any of the gazillion perceived injustices that she's unabashedly pointed out to me in person over the last 17 months. 

But I’ll take that as a good sign.  And a reminder that she's still a 10 year old.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mrs. Boyd's Class Joins the Democratic Process

When I first came to Mayflower Mill in 2000, I was surprised to learn that this elementary school had a student council.  Of course, I knew that high schools and many middle schools have student councils so that students feel that they have some control in the decision making at their school.  But I’d never heard of an elementary school that elected a student council.

Mayflower’s student council sponsors philanthropic efforts and school spirit days.  Spirit days are themed and allow students to come to school wearing pajamas, sporting a favorite team’s jersey, or even coiffed with crazy hair.  The student council collects food for Food Finders Food Bank and raises money for Riley Children’s Hospital, and each 4th and 5th grade class has two representatives.  Since my class is a combination 4th/5th, I have one 4th grade representative and one 5th grade rep.
Last fall, Kinley decided to run for student council.  Each candidate was required to make a poster and give a speech, and Kinley’s daddy helped her with both since I didn’t think it was fair for the teacher to endorse a specific candidate. 
Incidentally, these two years would have been SO DIFFERENT if I were a single parent or if I had a husband who was not so involved in our children’s day-to-day activities.  If I hadn’t had the option to be uninvolved in Kinley’s homework and other school-related projects, I can’t imagine how these years would have gone.  Either Kinley would have been at a severe disadvantage because I don’t think it’s fair to help her with her homework when none of my other students has the teacher at home.  Or the other students would be at a disadvantage because I’d be forced to help her.  Since neither of these options is ideal, I am so very grateful for Josh.  Here’s the poster they made together.

Kinley worked on her speech with help from Josh and enthusiastically practiced giving it.  When the day came for speeches and elections, she had quite a bit of competition.  Here are some of the other kids’ posters.

Some of Kinley's classmates even went all out and made campaign goodies to pass out - necklaces, candy bars, and even cookies!

With all of this campaigning, having a really strong speech was going to be important.  Here is what she wrote.
You should vote for me because I want to try and make the school a better place.  I’ll try and make people do more recycling, and I’ll try and make a Hawaiian Day.  I’ll also try and make there be plastic recycling and Wear Your Sunglasses to School Day.
I’m qualified because I’ve been First Mate in 3rd grade and I’ve been Class President in 5th grade.  I also help give food to hungry people at my church food pantry.   I also help teach English to people in other countries.  So I have experience in serving people.
I think that if I’m the student council representative I will serve you!  So if you vote for me, you won’t be disappointed.
Kinley makes her speech to her classmates.
Kinley uses visual aids - a grass skirt for Hawaiian Day and a can
of food to represent her work at the church food pantry.

At the bottom of the page, she wrote, “Make more connections,” since her Daddy suggested that she ad lib a bit to connect her life experiences to student council. Personally, I think it's hilarious that Hawaiian Day and Sunglasses Day were major parts of her platform, and her speech also makes me think that we must spend a lot of time in our family emphasizing recycling.  I mean, I'm all about recycling.  Josh hauls heaps of cans, bottles, paper, and cardboard to the recycling facility every month.  But I just didn't realize that Kinley thought recycling was so important.  And, from her speech at least, recycling is the biggest school issue she can think of.  Who knew?

She did a great job of delivering her speech, but so did many of her classmates.  One of them evoked some serious pathos by referring to a child in Riley hospital (wish Josh had thought of that), and one ended in true political advertisement style by saying, “I’m Josh Persin and I approved this message.”  Those gifted kids.  They think of everything. 
In the end it was a close race, and the fourth grade contest even came down to a run-off. Kinley lost the fifth grade race, but I was so proud of her for being a good loser.  

And, of course, for bringing some apparently much-needed attention to the important issues of hula skirts, protective eyewear, and recycling in our elementary school.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Beware! The Behavior Modifying Teacher Is On The Prowl

Fourteen.  One ten and four ones. 2 x 7.  14.  That's how many times Kinley came up to my desk to talk to me on Wednesday. FOURTEEN!  I know because I made a little tally mark in my lesson plan book each time.

Ever since we came back to school from Christmas break, I had noticed that Kinley was spending an unreasonable amount of time getting out of her seat and crossing the room to tell me in hushed tones about the most recent development in her book or the way so-and-so was not really reading during reading time or how this little spot back here in her throat was kind of hurting. 

It was driving me nutso.  And something had to be done.

Now, if this had been a problem with a regular student, I would have immediately gone into Behavior Modifying Teacher Mode.  I would have taken careful notes about the subject of each conversation with the child and then tallied the number of times in a day the child came up to my desk unbidden. Then, I would have gone to the supply closet and gotten out my little tub of green Bingo chips.  I would have called the clearly-desperate-for-attention-and-obviously-not-getting-it-at-home student up to my desk and would have spoken with him or her about the need to stay on task.  I would have shown the child my tally marks and then I would have told the child that fourteen trips to my desk was really too much. I would have given the child 5 Bingo chips to use the next day to spend for 5 (and only 5) private audiences with the Queen (that would be me).  Each private conversation would cost a chip, hopefully resulting in nine fewer one-on-one meetings with this child.

I would have informed the child that he or she could earn 20 Boyd Bucks the next day if fewer than the 5 Bingo chips were cashed in.  Then I would have sat back and patted myself on the back for having implemented yet another successful behavior modification intervention.

But this wasn't just any child.  It was MY child.  My child who gets plenty of attention at home, thank you very much.  And from her teacher, no less!

So instead, I called Kinley up to my desk at the end of the day (private conversation number 15 of the day)and showed her the fourteen little marks.  As I told her what the marks represented, I could see her cheeks begin to flush.  She shrank back from me a little as I asked her to multiply 14 by 27(the number of student in my class).  As I asked her what she thought it would be like for me to have 14 x 27 individual conversations with students in a single day, I could see her eyes start to fill with tears.

Did this stop me?  No.  I soldiered on in Behavior Modifying Mommy/Teacher Mode.  (Note:  If she had told me what 14 x 27 was after doing it in her head with mental math, I might have been more sympathetic and given up.)

But as it was, I laid out for her all the things that are a part of my job that I can't accomplish while listening to Kinley's Daily List of Observations, Injustices, Ailments, and General Miscellany.  I told her that (without the help of green Bingo chips) I expected her to reduce her number of trips to my desk the next day by at least half, and then I sent her on her way.  Back to her desk.  Away from my much-needed personal space.

I looked up a few minutes later to see her sitting on the floor under her desk sobbing, knees pulled up to her chest, arms wrapped tightly around herself, rocking back and forth in a stupor.  It was pitiful.  And it almost made me regret my words.  Almost.

Mostly it just made me roll my eyes at her melodrama and look forward to the next day when surely she would take my words to heart.  Which she did. 

She only came up five times on Thursday.  And five is a huge improvement over fourteen.  Especially without the aid Bingo chips.  Which just goes to show....something, I'm sure. I'll let you know when I figure it out.