Sunday, September 20, 2009


This just in: William hears like a bat!

It took a lot of pep talks and a little bribery, but with twenty minutes to go in the school day on Friday afternoon, William passed his second hearing test with flying colors (and made off with a cool toy of his choice from my prize bin, whereas all my well behaved students had to make do with "You get what you get and you don't get upset" -- sigh). Which is excellent news, because it means that the school psychologist can evaluate him, a process that will hopefully keep him out of my hair (William, I mean, not the school psychologist) for most of the day on Monday. Meanwhile, Friday was William's best day in school yet, by which I mean I did not once come close to crying while having to chase him away from everything in the classroom. In fact, he had an excellent, hard-working, quiet writing period, to such a degree that other students actually noticed and complimented him on it. Which brings me to...

Things Going On in My Classroom That Are Actually Going Right
1. Table tallies. All I have to do is say with exaggerated casualness, "Hmmmmmm, I wonder which table I'll be able to give a tally to for the nice way they're working now," and all of a sudden my room is a frenzy of seven-year-olds badgering each other to sit up straight, fold their hands, zip their lips, and get all the crap off their desks. My favorite part of table tallies is how frantically the kids hiss directions at each other: "Table tally, TABLE TALLY!!!!" as if the table tally were actually, like, some kind of cool reward. But I'm not complaining, because it works -- even on my chattiest table.

2. The compliment box. It's literally, like, a shoebox with a stack of index cards next to it, and the kids have free reign to write someone a compliment and leave it in the box. When I see a nice stack starting to pile up, I take some time away from our extremely busy academic schedule (shhh, don't tell my administration) and read the compliments out loud to the class. It's so sweet to see their faces light up when they hear a compliment directed their way, and it's especially nice to see who gets recognized: my very best behaved student, who deserves all the recognition she can get; and of course my naughty friends, who looked slightly awed when they realized someone had actually caught them being good.

Now, there are definitely times during the day when it's looking like the compliment box is getting out of hand -- like during writing time on Friday, when there were half a dozen kids standing around it writing compliments -- but want to know a secret? I kind of don't care -- after all, writing compliments is writing too, and goodness knows my class needs all the ego boosts it can get. What's even better is that my tattle turtle isn't seeing much action, while the compliment box is nearly always stuffed. The compliment box is definitely the very best thing I've had going so far.


Michelle said...

I just got a really cute book about giving compliments - Heartprints by PK Hallinan. Hope to read it to my 1st graders soon.
Have a great week!

Unknown said...

What a great idea!! I suspect that the kids don't get many compliments at home. I love it!!

Sarah said...

I love that idea!! I'm going to have to try that.

Anonymous said...


Wow--this teaching stuff looks harder than it used to be. Anyway, here's a tip-when my son was in kindergarten there was a VERY difficult boy who needed the kind of help and attention that William seems to need. Unfortunately, he was in a classroom with 26 other children and he was making life horrible for all of them. There wasn't much the teacher could do. So..parent after parent went to the principal to complain about the negative effect the boy was having on the other children and that the other children also had rights to a decent environment and a place to learn. Well, after enough parents complained, the boy was taken out of the classroom and put in a more appropraite environment. So, maybe if the other parents of children get fed up, you'll catch a break and will actually be able to teach.

Good luck from a NYC school parent.

Jules said...

i love the compliment box idea! way to go fostering positive interactions for your students!