Tag Archives: behavior

vibe

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A co-worker and I got into a mini-debate awhile ago.  It started when she asked if I wanted a shelf for my room.  I told her that although I appreciated the offer, it didn’t really match the colors in my room.  She then said, “Yeah, I know, but I just thought it would make your room less….I don’t know….boring.”  So then I said, “What do you mean by ‘boring’?”  So she explained that she felt my room didn’t have a vibrant, carefree vibe…it felt boring to her.  And I thought, “Huh, okay…to each his own I guess…”  I then explained to her the reason my room is the way it is and in the end we agreed to disagree.  Here’s the scoop:

I have made a conscious decision in my classroom to create a very calming, neutral color scheme.  Looking around my room you see a lot of blue and green (in various shades) with some splashes of purple and grey.  There are also tan and brown shades…mostly though natural wood or basket materials.    My main area rug has a splash of bright color as do the bulletin board boarders and my word wall alphabet.  The only other major splashes of bright color are the children’s work which is hung all over the room. I feel the color scheme is very earthy and natural and it helps me focus on the kids and what needs to get done.   

I know how much energy young children have…how they find it hard to sit still and use inside voices.  I also have read various articles about how color affects mood and behavior.  So when I got my current classroom I wanted to set up a blank canvas of sorts for a couple different reasons:  1) to subliminally encourage the children to behave a bit calmer and 2) to use the room as a backdrop to display all the children’s work.  My room isn’t quiet or still…there is always noise and activity…but it’s not chaos and wildness…they are focused on what they are doing.  And their work does tend to pop against the color scheme.

I have nothing against a room full of primary colors.  I also don’t think that teachers who have very colorful rooms have children who are wild and out of control.  I have seen many pre-k classrooms that are lovely and full of color everywhere you look with shelves, rugs, walls, toy bins, doors, and tables all various colors!  And in these rooms I’ve seen children behaving the same way they do in  mine.  And if that’s what suits you…great.  It’s just not me…too over-stimulating.

As far as neutral vs. color goes…I have seen (both online and in person) rooms that, for me, hit a good balance.  One that comes to mind that I like the best is the Teach Preschool Children’s Studio.  There is a lot of neutral in the space (walls, floors, cupboards, and most shelves) with bright pops of color all about (rugs, chairs, and some furniture).  I really like this space and I could see sending my child here or working here myself without being overwhelmed.

In the end each teacher has to do what feels right for them.  When I walk into my class each day I feel calm and relaxed…and I hope my kids do too.  It’s our home away from home…and I want us all to be comfortable and happy together.  So far, I think we are.

 

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i thought it would be easy…

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…but as it turns out, it’s not.  When my co-teacher left at the end of last school year and I found out I would be in the classroom alone – I was super excited!  The idea of having half the amount of kids and not having to always okay my ideas with someone else (even though I was head teacher and didn’t have to – I liked to have my co-teacher involved and get agreement on ideas) gave me the impression that this year was going to be much easier then years past!  I envisioned being able to give each child all the attention each needed so that they could all succeed to be the best learners possible.  I thought that we could all be much more productive in class because there would be less kids.  I had visions of great projects and learning opportunities!

But, that’s not the reality I’ve been living this school year.  Instead, it feels like the exact opposite and I come home feeling exhausted and, more often then not, having a headache.  This is why I’ve been absent from my blog so much this year.  I work for a private, non-profit school so we don’t have any services available to our children.  However, I have 3 children who could use speech therapy and 2 others who I feel might have some sort of special need (but I don’t know what…something’s just “off” with each of them).  Also, I have about 4 children who have behavior problems (2 of those being aggressive towards others).  And this class is really young.  I only have 14 kids.  I get so discouraged some days.  Then there are other days that run so smoothly I begin to wonder if it’s not something I do to cause the “bad” days.

This class is young.  Needy.  Immature.  Whatever you want to call it.  There have been a lot of days where I feel like I’m failing them because I don’t always have the time or ability to give them what they need.  I’m doing the best I can – this is such a big adjustment not having another adult to help me.  I had thought I was doing well, and they were starting to “get it” – but then I did mid-year evaluations.  So many of them don’t know so many of the concepts we’ve been working on for months!  So once again, I think I must be doing something wrong.  But then I think, maybe they just aren’t ready?  I dunno.

Today I was reading through some of my favorite blogs to catch up and I read this post on Elbows, knees, dreams and I totally thought for a minute she must have a hidden cam in my class because I can totally relate to everything she wrote here!  They also don’t listen when I’m reading  (or talking) to them.  I can read something like, “The little girl ran away from the house to get away from the witch.”  And then I might ask, “So, why did the girl run away?”  And I get answers like “She ran fast!”, “She likes to run!”, “Because she’s having fun!” and others along those lines.

Anyway, I don’t mean to complain.  I do love my job.  And these kids aren’t terrible or horrible.  They can be sweet, cute, funny, inquisitive, innovative, helpful, caring, and silly.  We laugh and have fun together.  We ponder together.  We investigate together.  And we’re growing together.  Everyday.

 

rough play

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So far the school year is going great – except for a few behavioral issues.  The main issue I’m trying to deal with (unsuccessfully so far) is that my boys (about 6 of them) and a couple of my girls really like to play rough!  And by this I mean:  pushing, pulling, punching, hitting, kicking, wrestling, pretend swords, guns, lasers, knives, bombs, “webs” etc.  I’m at my wits end.  No matter what I do – they insist on playing this way, and ultimately, one or more of them gets hurt!  I’ve talked to them, and their parents, tried time-outs, tried not letting them play together, tried coming up with new ideas for games they could play and more – but it keeps up.

I’ve never had a class where the majority of children play this way.  Usually it’s just a few and once they see the other kids don’t want to play like that they stop on their own.  This years class is a different breed!  So, I need some ideas and suggestions from all of you!  What do you do about rough play?  Do you allow it?  And if so, what are you’re rules?  How do you address this issue?  Any ideas and suggestions are more then welcomed!  🙂

4 weeks in…

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Well I just ended my 4th week of the new school year and I’ve survived 1 case of the stomach flu and 1 bad summer cold (as well as 15 children)!  And I’m exhausted!  I forgot how it felt to get a new class into the routine and all the frustrations that come along with that job!  I’ve been very frustrated lately with how my class has been behaving and I was sure I’d never had a class like this before until I read my post from last August!  I won’t write the same things now – that pretty much sums up what I’m going through!

I thought I could avoid that situation this year by being very intentional when I introduced new toys/activities – I take everything to the carpet at circle time and show/discuss how everything is to be (or not to be) used.  But they still aren’t getting it and I’ve had toys/containers/baskets/books broken!  Beyond modeling and discussing how to treat  items respectfully, how do I get them to understand how to handle things with care?! Should I get the parents involved and write a note?  Any feedback would be appreciated! 

In other news, Parents Night (or Back to School Night or Open House – whatever you call it) was a great success!  Aside from the fact that I did it all by myself this year (which made me extremely nervous) I had all but 2 families show up!  They all seemed very pleased with what I had to say and got all their questions answered!  I haven’t had one complaint yet – and I hope I won’t have any in the future!  My families seem to want to be involved and know what’s going on in the classroom – and for that I’m thankful.  The two families that didn’t show up are two that should have been there to hear what I had to say.  Each of these families has a boy who is having behavioral issues and I’m constantly writing notes home (because I believe these parents are avoiding talking to me).  But hopefully I can get them on track!

Okay, I feel like I’m rambling now…I’ll try to get online more consistently to give updates and let you know what I’m doing in class.  I just feel like I’ve been really scattered and disorganized lately – even though I do plan in advance what I’m going to be doing!  Just seems like I’m always running out of time!  AAAHHHHH!   Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy!  LOL  But I think it’s just the “beginning-of-school-getting-back-into-the-routine” thing!  🙂  Hope all of you are enjoying your new class (or will be soon)!

special needs?

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If I’m to be completely honest with all of you, I’ve never worked with children who have special needs.  I’ve never taken classes on how to work with children who have special needs and I have never worked at a school where there were special needs children enrolled.  It’s not because I have anything against children with special needs, it’s just that the opportunity has never presented itself (and I’ve never gone out of my way to look for that opportunity).

But now, I feel things have changed – I think.

Last Monday I got a new boy in my class – let’s call him Jumpy.  At first I was annoyed – every spring (well, it’s almost) I get at least 2 new students who have never been enrolled in school before and whose parents expect to be ready for Kindergarten with just a few months of school.  After the annoyance passed, I became optimistic – after all, I hadn’t even met the child or his family and it could be great!  So I went into work Monday expecting the best.  His mother (later I found out it was his grandmother whom he lives with) didn’t give me much information as she was in a hurry to leave – just that he is “very smart” and that he already knows “all his colors, shapes, letters, and numbers” and should have “no problems” entering into a class of 19 other children because he’s already been in “a small home daycare”.  Okay, I thought, sounds great!

However, by Friday (well actually way before Friday), we realized that he shows a lot of atypical behavior.  And not only have we observed this but many other teachers have as well.  Academically, he is behind where he should be – so much for his being “very smart”.  But that’s not where my concern lies.  When we do group activities, he curls up in a ball (the majority of the time) and covers his ears.  This can include music, dancing, flag salute, games (quiet and not so quite games), story time, etc.  When we ask him to go find his spot on the carpet, he runs to the nearest corner, curls up in a ball, covers his ears, and screams.  I have no idea why.  He also hides a lot when we are doing something he doesn’t want to do or he is asked to do something he doesn’t like.  He hides under chairs, tables, easels, cupboards – anywhere he can fit.

It also seems like he always needs to be touching someone/something, making noise, and moving around.  Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t ADD or ADHD – he can sit and focus if he chooses to – he just doesn’t choose to do it very often.  I’ve had to move all the children away from him who sit near him because he won’t leave them alone and is causing them to be very distracted!  I feel bad for him because I seriously think at times he doesn’t understand what we are asking him to do!

Jumpy also needs everything to be in order.  If we ask him to come with us and he see’s something on the ground or something on a table (for example a glue bottle that has fallen over) he won’t come with us until he straightens up what he perceives to be out of place.  I like neat children – but at times this gets a little out of hand!

He also can’t follow a line (or really stand in a line for that matter) so we’ve had to give him a buddy whose hand he holds anytime we leave the classroom.  He doesn’t seem to mind this, and the children I’ve had all year think this is a very special job – so they don’t mind either!

He plays with the other children (as opposed to still doing parallel play) but he tends to be aggressive and doesn’t seem to understand the boundaries and rules the children have set up within their games.  And he can become overly attached to certain kids and then won’t let others play with them or gets extremely agitated when they do – which can lead to more aggression.

So I’m not sure what to do.  Jumpy is a sweet boy – but we can tell he has issues.  Maybe we’re reading too much into his behavior and he isn’t special needs?  But I can’t help but think that in my 8 years of teaching I’ve never come across a child with all of these behaviors.  And this is just the beginning of what we’ve seen.  The grandmother doesn’t seem aware (or willing to disclose) if anything is special about him – but we’re under the impression that there has to be a reason for all of these behaviors.

Any advice would be welcome – thanks!  🙂

teamwork

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Today a group of 5 children sat on the area rug in our room and worked together to put together a 48 piece floor puzzle.  Once they completed it they stood up, cheered, and clapped their hands.  They were so proud of themselves!  And I was proud for them.  They invited everyone to the carpet to see their masterpiece!  Then they took the puzzle apart and repeated this same scene twice more.

It was nice to watch them work together.  When one child wasn’t sharing pieces or being especially helpful I would hear someone say, “We need more teamwork!”  I loved it!  They tried to talk it out and use trial and error to find where pieces went – I was proud they just didn’t get frustrated and give up!  I love going through my day and looking for moments like this!  And when they decided they were done, I made sure I let them know how proud I was with all of them!  I hope this behavior continues!  🙂

bright spots

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Oh, what a day!  I can honestly say I’m glad it’s over!  This morning was quite hectic and we got way behind schedule!  I was still optimistic about the children making their own books…but in the end it didn’t work out.  Ms. Bennet and I had to clean up three different children after three different accidents!  We had a little girl just stand in the middle of the room and wet her pants.  She didn’t even ask to go potty.  It doesn’t help that our entire room is carpeted.  So one of us had to clean her and the other had to clean the floor.  We also had two children get sick and vomit today.  Once again, one of us cleaned the floor while the other cleaned the children.

I did observe some bright spots amidst the chaos today.  We had Lego’s out and all the children playing with them started making Lego cell phones – with antennas.  They started “calling” each other and having long conversations about where they were going and what they were going to do.  Then all of a sudden one little boy started yelling into his phone, “I can hear your speaker phone all the way over here!  You need to turn that thing down!”  I almost started laughing!  He repeated it two time until she responded to him, “I can’t turn it down or I won’t be able to hear you!”  He looked very annoyed by her answer.  Then another girl said, “Mine won’t turn off – this button won’t work!”  She was “pushing” a button on her phone over and over again.  It was too cute – I love seeing them use their imaginations!

Later on the playground I was very proud of my girls when I observed two of them playing with a car.  They were sitting each other pushing the car back and forth between them.  Then another girl from our class came up and said, “Can I please play too?”  The response she got was, “You have to ask Kitten, she had the car first.”  So she asked Kitten and got a quick nod, and the three of them started playing.  A few minutes after that two more girls from our class came up to the group and one of them said, “Please can we play with you guys?”  And they soon joined the group.  A little while later 3 more girls from our class came up and sat down to watch the game.  Then one of them said, “Kitten, can we please play your game?”  After Kitten said yes, all the girls joined the circle and there they sat pushing the car around from girl to girl.  I was very proud that they had all used their manners and could take turns and share so nicely!  I was also secretly happy that the other teachers on the playground saw this too – it’s not impossible to teach young children manners – it just takes patience and persistence!