Spring 2017

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Page 34 of 43

ATPE NEWS 35 At the beginning of every school year, I find myself sweetly asking our ac- commodating secretary, Mrs. Penny, "Remind me about the attendance again. Do I do it on paper or online? Or both? What if they don't come tomorrow?" I will inevitably be back the next day to clarify for my newly enrolled student. I know she explains it during in-service. I just can't ever seem to remember what she says. "Where do I turn this in? What page did you say? When is lunch?" Kids may not retain information if they are not ready. I know you just said it. I know you said it a million times (literally). But perhaps their brains were not ready to file the information. I find it helpful to create visual re- minders, such as writing the page num- ber on the board. I use an "Ask Three Before Me" strategy to eliminate the small stuff. And though I'm not always successful, I try to remember to be pa- tient when they ask me things for the billionth time (literally). We've all spent countless hours in faculty meetings hearing information that could've been addressed in an email. We hold a strong grudge against our captors who torment us with redun- dant material. (Unless, of course, there's candy.) I ask myself, "Is this worth their time?" If the information is only applicable to a few students, I plan small-group in- struction. If there's an unavoidable task (like progress monitoring), I explain the why. Students may not completely understand or agree, but they will ap- preciate that I took the time to address their concerns. Have you ever had an administrator or curriculum coach come through your room without leaving you any feed- back? It's distressing. Especially if you witnessed them typing on a tablet while they were observing. I always imagine they've documented something to the effect of, "This woman is dreadfully dis- turbing. She should be terminated im- mediately, and her certification should be revoked." Our students need to know how they're doing, as well as what they're doing well. If all my walk-throughs delivered a list of the things I didn't do well, I would probably quit reading them or just stop going to work. I certainly wouldn't put forth my best effort because it would feel like it didn't matter. I want to hear what I'm doing well. If I trust and respect you, I'm willing to hear one or two things within my zone of proximal development that I can start implementing. Tell kids what they're doing well. Praise their cour- age. When you know they can handle it, stretch them with a manageable teaching point. I have seen some real tantrums at school. And I'm talking about in the copy room. Especially when someone sends a print job from their comput- er while others have been waiting in line to use the copy machine. Double especially if the person waiting had colored cardstock in there. Adults and kids both feel slighted when people cut. It's tempting to tell kids that "it doesn't matter because we're already late" and "we're all going to the same place." But that can leave kids feeling like they don't matter. I try to help kids understand why it really bothers them. We feel dis- respected when others step in front of us. That is frustrating because you feel like people think you are unimportant. In a world of flaring tempers and ex- treme road rage, students need to under- stand what they feel, why they feel it, and how to process it. I realize it seems like a distraction from the standards, but this is arguably the most integral of all "other duties as assigned." Addressing children's social emotional needs may not always show up in the scores, but it makes them much less likely to show up on America's Most Wanted. Accepting that we are just like our students may be humbling, but it can transform our perspective. We can bet- ter understand our students and more accurately address their needs. When we focus on our similarities, we find pa- tience and perseverance we didn't know we had. Perhaps, then, we will begin to see our strengths mirrored back. 3 We don't always pay attention to directions. 4 We resent being forced to do things we think are useless. 5 We crave immediate and positive feedback. 6 We get angry when people cut in line. Laura Gallaway is an instructional coach in Bryan ISD. She has been a teacher and an ATPE member since 2007. © Woman teacher tutor/IStock/Thinkstock

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