Science in the City

Jan 31, 2013

6 Ways School is Like Working Out

I had surgery on my shoulder last May.  At the time, I couldn't work out for 4 months afterward.  In an effort to save money, I cancelled my gym membership.  Then, I rode my bike some at the end of the summertime, and did some hiking.  Once it got cold, and school started back up, I did almost no exercise. I know I should, but between being busy, tired, not having the didn't happen.  I tried a few times, and didn't stick with it, even though it felt good when I was doing it.

Last weekend I bought a new workout video, on a great sale.  Then I got sick.  I first used it today.  Afterwards, I had a thought.  My working out (or lack of), is very similar to my students work habits.  They haven't yet established the habits to be successful in school.  They want to, and are proud of themselves when they turn in homework, or do well on an assignment, but can't sustain it.

So what can we do to help them sustain these behaviors long enough to become habits??

What other things help people develop new habits:

  • We have to motivate them to want that change-- engaging lessons, connections to real life, goals, etc
  • We have to provide lots of positive reinforcement
  • Make it an enjoyable experience
  • Provide support for them to succeed (help with homework, flexibility)
  • Make these efforts sustained - it takes a long time to develop new habits.
  • Keep this analogy in mind. I think its easy for us, as teachers, to think that once we've told kids something, or by the time they are a certain age, they should have school habits well established....maybe not.  Remember how hard it is to learn something new.  
What if they don't?  What if they haven't been successful in learning these habits?  Or what if its not something that is reinforced at home?

Jan 29, 2013

This is What It Looks Like When I Get Frustrated with Classroom Management

I have been having a lot of trouble with glue this year. I have done interactive notebooks for years, and never had the kind of problems that I've had this year.  The group of middle school kids that I have don't know how to use glue - they put TONS OF GLUE, then when they close their book it oozes out, pages stick together, and the page they glued is all wrinkled and wet.

I have tried to demonstrate, I have gotten frustrated and yelled, I have designated students to go around and glue.  Some worked better than others, but the problem is still not straightened out.

Friday we really spent sometime getting our notebooks set up for the next unit (I figured we'd get the glue issue out of the way all at once).  I was so frustrated.  I kept thinking "My six year old can do this!"

Then I had an idea....videotape my 6-year-old showing them how to do it.  He heard my complaining and said "I could show them how to do it"

I'll let you know how it goes. I think it might be crazy enough to actually work!  What do you think?

Jan 27, 2013

What Does it Take to Be Successful in Middle School? Be Crazy

To get middle schoolers attention, I think you need to be a little bit crazy.  That's not my strength.  My strengths are lesson planning, differentiation, and building relationships with the kids, but not being crazy and off-beat and entertaining.

When I student taught in middle school, my supervising teacher had been (honestly) a magician in Vegas before he became a teacher.  Every really good middle school teacher seems to have a "gimmick" or a way to get kids attention, whether its something consistent, or something out of the blue....Surprise candy, music, old stories, etc....some kind of "cool" factor.

When I was in 8th grade, my Social Studies teacher was a retired long-time army man. He still looked and acted very military, and that was entertaining to 8th graders.

My husband told me a story about someone he knew.  This person had broken ribs and had a cast on their torso, but it didn't show under his shirt, so the kids didn't know it was there.  It was a windy day and his tie kept blowing up and getting in his face.  He grabbed the stapler off of his desk and stapled his tie to his chest.  He said the kids behaved perfectly the rest of the day.

I know another teacher who keeps some blooper videos and funniest home videos on a flash drive. He will sometimes play them to get kids attention, or as a reward at the end of class.  Here is a compilation of funniest America's Funniest Home Videos to get you started...

When we have spirit week I do dress up, and the kids get a big kick of out it.   But how to carry some of that through the rest of the year?

Do you think that's an integral part of teaching?  Especially of teaching middle school?  What other funny stories or unique teachers do you know of?

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