Friday, November 30, 2012

What's best?

The most commonly used phrase I encounter with parents is this, "I want what is best for my child."  Internally I think one thing...Don't we all?  I mean seriously, I do not know an educator that wants to do the worst for a child.

This phrase brings up an internal struggle for me.  What is best?  I can tell you what I believe is best may be different from what you believe is best?  This phrase that is so often used is truly open ended.  Let me speak to my own son:  Drew is a ten year old in 5th grade.  Drew has challenges, he has Aspergers, and he struggles to understand many social situations.  Drew is a bright boy, shoot he knows more facts about science then I ever could.  His reading ability is off the charts, and his knowledge of Star Wars could likely rival George Lucas.  So the interesting case is this, what is best for Drew?  Do I want the schools and society to conform to Drew?  Do I want Drew to conform to society and figure it out?  What is best?  

I've thought long and hard about this situation.  This situation is unique because it is Drew, but let's be blunt...we all have students that are challenges.  Some are extreme ADHD, some are LD, some are handicapped, and some come to school with so much baggage that learning is an after thought.  The debate is, "what is best?"  I can give you my thoughts, but I am only one.  

What is best?  I believe what is best is that we love and care for each child individually.  My belief is that a student that enjoys school WILL succeed.  Now let's be honest...success is open to interpretation. Some success means a 9-5 job, others success is college.  It all depends on your perspective.  Here is how I created "what I thought was best" in the classroom:

1)  I invested in my students.  
     - I went to sporting events.  
     - I listened to their stories.
     - I learned their likes and dislikes.

2)  I tried very hard to ENGAGE all students.
     - I'm passionate about all subjects.  I loved getting excited and energetic about learning.
     - I created projects that made learning relevant.  
     - I shared the purpose of the lesson with kids.
     - I personalized successes and privatized learning moments.

3)  I communicated with parents.
     - I typically called 6-8 parents a weekend to discuss progress, strengths and weaknesses.
     - I tried very hard to share more successes than failures.
     - I honestly shared with parents what I viewed the biggest issue was.

All of this was my effort to individualize and figure out what is best?  My experience has taught me something, "engaged students succeed!"  I cannot tell you the last time I witnessed a fully engaged student failing.

The phrase will not go away, parents will always say, "I want what is best for my child."  At this point the debate begins, what is best?  All educators will have their opinions, you now know mine.  Engagement is essential.  Engaged students enjoy school, engaged students put forth effort, and engaged students usually learn.  

What is your opinion?  How would you respond to the phrase, "I want what is best for my child." What would your plan be?

Next Week At a Glance:

December 1:  Happy Birthday to Tammy Wohlford
Monday, December 3rd:  Admin Meeting 9-12
Monday, December 3rd:  String Team rehearsal at JSO 4:30-5:30pm
Tuesday, December 4th:  Panther Pride Luncheon
Tuesday, December 4th:  String Team 4-5pm
Tuesday, December 4th:  Fire Drill or Lockdown (depending on weather)
Wednesday, December 5th:  K-2 Assembly
Wednesday, December 5th 2:45 meeting in Library with Sam's Club rep (gift card giveaway)
Friday, December 7th:  Staff Meeting at 8am in Mrs. Soper's room
Saturday, December 8th:  Happy Birthday to Merrie Jo Williams

Great Things Noticed or Heard:

*  I cannot say enough about the Holiday Musical on Monday.  The students were well behaved and the performance was phenomenal.  I was pleased with the student behavior and the positive energy that was in the air.  Thank you Teachers for all you did to help prepare!
*  Mrs. Fitz, you continue to impress!  The Holiday Musical was a hit once again!  Great Job.
*  Next up...Drama Club's performance of Charlotte's Web.  Well Done 5th graders!  I taught 5th grade for nine would have taken me ten years to do what they did in a few short weeks.  WOW!
*  Mrs. Trudell, wonderful work!  You and Mrs. Brue did a great job with all your Drama Club students, you really impressed me.
*  Got a laugh out of Sid this week.  He was eating a snack and dropped a piece inside his violin!  Made me laugh.
*  Students loved the Punk Rocker in me.  I'm not a big dress up guy, but they earned it and I followed through.  I realize some of you knew something was up because I had jeans on.  
*  I got a kick out of Barrett bringing me a birthday treat.  I tried to coax him into giving me ten cupcakes instead of one.  Funny part was that he was willing to give me more than one by the end of it!
*  Wonderful teamwork was viewed in Mrs. Gibbs class this week.  I really enjoy listening to students teach students in a polite, respectful manner.
*  Mrs. Archer's class solved the riddle...well done 1st graders
*  Really enjoyed watching Darby D. welcome a new first grader to Warner.  
*  Hailey B.  made a wonderful picture and brought it to me.  A kindergarten student that works hard and uses her time wisely...precious!
*  Proud Parents left Thursday's Charlotte's Web performance.  Parents couldn't stop raving about the performance.
*  Very impressed with all Warner performers.  I truly believe a few "knocked it out of the park!"  Amazing young adults.

Articles Worth Your Time:

How Teens Do Research in the Digital World

15 unwritten rules for runners

Rock Star Adam Raut

8 Things Skilled Teachers Think, Say and Do

Mr. Powers Daily Tweeter  shared by@MrPowersCMS

5th grade blog   shared by @WiscPrincipal

12 Alternatives to Letter Grades  shared by @baldy7

Videos Worth Watching:

First Year Teacher, well done young man!  (3 min)

This was our Grade 3-5 video of the week.  The message to the students was, "How will you make today count?"  (11 min)  Highly recommend!

Life of Pi official trailer.  This movie really intrigues me, do I finish the book first or watch it on the big screen?  (2 min)

Kid Snippet!  These crack me up! (2 min)

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