Monday, September 16, 2013

I'm Speaking Up Like Someone Told Me

             Visit the Tuesday Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers.  Tweet at SLICE2013! 

Carrie Gelson, one of my favorite ‘go to’ people for book ideas on her blog There’s A Book for That just wrote a post celebrating 20 years of teaching by sharing 20 things she’s learned throughout those years.  I loved reading each one, and two would be placed at the top of my list, but this one, number 19, connected to my whole being: Be a storyteller. Our classrooms are a window into how we as a society look after our children. Speak up. 
            When I read Carrie’s words, I knew what I would write today.  I’ve thought about this all day, and wonder if it’s a way to bring educators together in a common goal of kindness, and of course we must include the children.  Part of the definition of society in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary is an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs, or profession or an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another.  Above all we must have a common belief to be kind to one another.  I am speaking up!


       Can we use both a concrete and a metaphorical window to teach children to look more closely at their behavior?   In both art and writing lessons, I used medium index cards and cut one inch squares in them, to help students to focus on the small things, the details.  Is it possible to use these same windows, yes, index cards with one-inch squares, to help them see their world from different perspectives? 
         I imagine, with students, looking through our windows to help us discuss these questions:

·      Can you see yourself being kind to someone new?
·      Can you imagine, by looking through this imaginary window, a way to live through the day using words that are friendlier, more thoughtful?
·      Can you look through the window and hear the words said, feel the feelings felt because of them? 
·      Do the scenes you see and hear need change, or are you satisfied with the way you have ‘painted’ them?

        I have focused on students, but also think the questions should be asked of everyone, but especially those who work with children?  There is that popular quote by the past wonderful psychologist Haim Ginott:  I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.
    If we help students see their own behavior through a window lens, we must look at ourselves also.  It’s my story today.  Enough said. 
       



photo credit: 55Laney69 via photopin cc

45 comments:

  1. Thanks - I needed your quote this morning more than you can ever imagine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome, Anita. I still re-read Haim Ginott's books, very wise.

      Delete
  2. YES! WE need so much more of this. Thank you so much Linda!
    Can you see yourself being kind to someone new?
    · Can you imagine, by looking through this imaginary window, a way to live through the day using words that are friendlier, more thoughtful?
    · Can you look through the window and hear the words said, feel the feelings felt because of them?
    · Do the scenes you see and hear need change, or are you satisfied with the way you have ‘painted’ them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome Bonnie. It would be wonderful to hear the discussions.

      Delete
  3. I love this! I am working with students on setting goals for themselves, and I'm choosing goals for myself. Last year, we talked a lot about "choosing kind", and this year I want them to "be brave"... because sometimes it takes serious bravery to be ABLE to choose kind.

    I picked a personal goal of "respond with wonder and awe".. partly because I want to refocus myself on seeing each child in my room as a little miracle. Even the ones that sometimes rub me the wrong way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right about the 'choosing brave'. It is something I have talked about with students, to find the courage to step up and do what they know is right. I love your personal goal, and hope you will tell about it in your posts sometime.

      Delete
  4. I have been thinking about this and talking with teachers about this idea of helping children and adults "see" behavior differently. Thank you for this post
    Juliann

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope it helps in some way, Juliann. I didn't say it, but was also probably influenced by John Lennon's "Imagine"-it has always been a favorite.

      Delete
  5. Linda. I am more than honoured. This post made me cry. Your enough said was much said. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome, Carrie. You inspired me very much!

      Delete
  6. Such a powerful post, Linda. I feel so strongly about practicing what we preach, especially when it comes to modelling behavior for our students (just as we do for our own kids). We need to ask ourselves those questions, too - especialy this one:
    "Do the scenes you see and hear need change, or are you satisfied with the way you have ‘painted’ them?"
    We paint our kids into corners, too...don't we?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, is that another post? Yes, the modeling is critical! Thanks Tara!

      Delete
  7. Choose to be kind is a phrase that I have been using at home with my own children for a while now. It's often hard for them, as siblings, to be kind to each other. I heard myself saying it a lot over the summer. I would love to ask my kids some of the questions you included to start some discussion. This was a great reminder. I also see this carrying over into my classroom where we are just getting to know each other and, as kindergarten students, learning how to do school. Choosing to be kind is the biggest expectation in the classroom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems you have a head start on all this, Robin. I hope some of the questions will be helpful, too. Thanks for telling about what you're doing!

      Delete
  8. Wow, Linda! I love the way you pushed us to ask those questions of ourselves. Teachers are the change agents in classrooms. It's an important reminder (and message) that you shared today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Stacey. We do control that weather, for sure!

      Delete
  9. Thank you, Linda. I do think that the window paper would work here. You have me thinking about the ways I, too, need to choose kind. So often these times revolve around slowing down. Do you also love Naomi Shihab Nye's poem, "Kindness"? It is truly a favorite. There's a lot more to write around this topic, and I hope that we get to read more about it from you... xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I know the poem. Naomi Nye is a treasure to listen to, isn't she? And I do agree that slowing down is helpful. I've learned in this past week that being kind on the telephone is so helpful when I am navigating many business systems. When I (finally) get to speak to a real person, kindness helps immensely. Thanks Amy-a thread of this may follow.

      Delete
  10. Accountability for our actions and words, that is a goal worth pursuing in all aspects of our life. So hard for some to do, but it makes a difference when we look inside first. Great thoughts today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Elsie, and I like the words you used too, that 'accountability' for one's behavior.

      Delete
  11. Linda,
    This is lovely. I'd like to piggyback a post on my blog next week, with a pingback (Is that what they call it?) I think it is so important for our students to practice and spread kindness. Much like the Patricia Polacco post today, "We must be the change we want to see in the world." I will tell the story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Terrific, Margaret! I so enjoy Patricia Polacco's posts-make me happy every time! Are you referring to the poster? So wonderful!

      Delete
  12. Yikes! We're you peeking into my room today? It was not one of my better days and I felt terrible at the end of it. I will do better tomorrow thanks to you and your windows and quotes. As always thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That one thing I didn't say was that it wasn't always smooth sailing. That's why I so like using the word 'mindful' with my students. In our minds is where things begin, so paying attention is the habit needed I think. And that is often challenging. Sorry for the day-better tomorrow! Thanks, Tammy!

      Delete
  13. Thanks for a great post. While I don't work with kids, I found myself thinking about the issue of getting someone to see their behavior from another perspective a lot while on my way home today. I'm starting up my own law practice and am doing a lot of public defender work- it's hard and a bit depressing b/c so many adults seem to have the emotional stability of about a 10 yr old. It feels like a vicious cycle, but I think a lot of your words of wisdom will help me talk to them- thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some (many?) adults do try to place blame for their own actions. I do wonder if they've taken that step to adulthood that happens around middle school age? I hear you! Thanks Jane!

      Delete
  14. Ooh, I really like the window metaphor, Linda! Did you read Franki's post today? She had a Maya Angelou quote at the end that fits perfectly with the end of your post. Each year, I try to be more purposeful about seeing students as people who need to feel cared about first, and learners who need to meet standards AFTER that, but it seems like there can never be enough reminders in the craziness of day-to-day school work. Thanks for another important one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jennifer, I've missed you. Hope the year is going well! Don't forget that the students have to step up and do their part too! I really think it works two ways! Thanks!

      Delete
  15. That Ginott quote is one of my favorites. We are the decisive element. If we embrace that power we can affect change. I love your focus on kindness and detail. It reminded me of a lesson from Harvey Daniels and Nancy Steineke's Text Lessons where you have students examine a piece of art one quadrant at a time. Sometimes I take pictures of students during things we do in class and then as a reflection I show the pictures and say "What were you paying attention to?"...we just think about it and look at the pictures, but they often share some powerful realizations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee Ann, that's a marvelous idea for reflection. I've never done anything other than had them look at the writing or the sketch & ask what did they miss? What else was there? But maybe looking at themselves "looking" would draw more details? Yes, I've done some other 'detail' lessons, like using the Private Eye ideas with loupes. Thank you!

      Delete
  16. My favorite question was - "Can you imagine, by looking through this imaginary window, a way to live through the day using words that are friendlier, more thoughtful?" It's important to choose our words carefully. Thanks for this gentle reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ramona. It's so good to use those kind words. I certainly appreciate them, & "imagine" you and others do as well. Now to convince everyone!

      Delete
  17. Linda
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful slice full of wisdom! Your words are so encouraging and meaningful! Using that imaginary window to reflect and notice details...using words that are friendlier and show kindness...so needed these days-so needed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amy-thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed the post, and hope it is helpful to you, to your teaching! I do think it's important, very much so!

      Delete
  18. Linda,
    Thanks for this very important reminder. So agree with you. About fifteen years ago, I was talking to one of my most important mentors about what we thought were the most important qualities in a teacher. I said I wanted the teachers I hired to be smart. She said she wanted them to be kind. I've come to see, over the past decade or so, just how very important this is.

    P.S. I'd love to go for coffee any time. My other email is carwilc@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wise words indeed from your mentor, Carol. Thank you! I'll be in touch!

      Delete
  19. Love the quote at the end - such an important realization that we shape our students and our classroom. Love the activity, thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Katherine. I know it's important to you in every way!

      Delete
  20. You are speaking up and you are heard! I also just noticed the Mary Oliver quote at the top of your page. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Betsy! Happy you like the Oliver quote, too. She's just great!

      Delete
  21. This post reminds of the that Brene Brown quote: Stories are a data with a soul. Turning stories into data on which we base decisions, like the choice to be kind, has power beyond simple words or numbers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow-I don't know it. Exactly what we believe, right, Christy? Thanks for sharing with me!

      Delete
  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  23. For some people the idea of kindness is difficult to grasp. They need guidance, modeling and support. For some people kindness seems to come naturally, but even these children and adults can benefit from reflecting. I like the approach and questions that you shared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Terje. You make a good point, direct reflection and discussion is important. It can lead to good thinking as a group as well as individually.

      Delete

Having a conversation is a good thing!