Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Two of our staff back to school activities are...

This year we have opened with a puzzle theme!  Two lessons were stressed.

 Our back to school activities for teachers:

1.       Instead of sharing with a shoulder partner a few pictures of the summer everyone submitted a few pictures via email and a movie was made, set to the Beethoven’s 9th Symphony! Each picture was shown for 10 seconds and we all shared a verbal vine about the scene.  The variety of all the submitted pictures ranged from Spain to Florida, to family and friends, beaches and mountains, with and without people!  To conclude, we pondered how our experiences in this room, over one summer were far more than those of most of our students, maybe even over a life time!  We did more in one summer than they may accomplish in their lifetimes.  This granted us the permission to begin our academic adventure painting a picture of a physical adventure, traveling from a place of sure footing to uncertainty.  We connected the educational risks with those geographical risks surrounding travel, adventures and summer trips!  We thought of the joy these adventures brought to our own children and how their eyes lightened and memories were etched in their minds.  We wondered what it would take to being that same passion and enthusiasm into the classroom.

2.       Additionally, later that same day, we built a puzzle with pieces we received earlier that day.  However, one piece was deliberately withheld.  When asked to assemble the puzzle, things were progressing smoothly.  We got to the end and noticed the missing part.  Many applications to this missing piece were discussed.  We talked about the contributions each of us makes to the students’ lives.  Additionally we wondered if our students were feeling these same feelings of frustration when they almost finished their projects but were not equipped to reach the final conclusion.  Often, they could not reach the mark due to circumstances beyond their control.  This only reinforced the student’s perception that the true locus of control was outside their influence.  According to the students, success is unattainable and extenuating circumstances always prevent them from reaching the finish line. 

Therein lays the issue.  Students often follow this thought process:
With no opportunity for success, why even try? 
If I can’t win, why would I even play? 
If the chances of success are so slim, I won’t even risk it!

Our answer is simple.  We deliberately reach out to students, even if they push us away, especially if they push away.  They need healthy relationships even more!  A student must learn self-affirmation and positive self-talk!  A student must believe in himself or her own value, regardless of the situation.  A student must have a positive example, role model, caring adult or some support team that breaks the negative cycle.  This comes through a concerned adult, caring enough to share their lives with the student’s lives and willing to follow the green eggs and ham example. 

How do we help foster success?  Build a relationship.  Make a connection.  These simple actions begin to act as bridges or pathways or routes out of the negative cycles and allow students to court with success.  This lays out a foundation for a future attempt, and sets up an exit strategy for those attempts that fall short.  A pattern of persistence and determination becomes the norm.  The illusive success becomes attainable and reachable becasue the pupil learns how to win and how to fail!

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