Life in Kindergarten: Kissing, Butt Slapping, and Nudity

I have a “rocking” little kindergarten class this year.  My students are rough, busy, and loud.  They haven’t come with much patience, don’t possess much stamina for school, and are struggling to make green choices. I’ve definitely seen a lot of growth since the beginning of the year, but some days . . . oh my, some days!

There are days I feel as though all I’ve done is manage behaviour.  I’ve pulled out all my teacher tricks, I’ve read for new ideas, and I’ve picked the brains of my colleagues.  And still, there are days that I feel defeated by a group of five year olds!

But then the best thing happens . . . I pop into the room across the hall, or make a longer walk down the hall to the middle year’s end.  I visit with one of my colleagues, and we share stories of our wild day, sometimes over chocolate.  All the stuff that made the day seem disastrous melts away in the heat of laughter.  The shared stories help create a problem solving atmosphere, and often a plan for moving forward germinates from the interaction.  I am so grateful for the supportive relationships I have, for the people around me who gently push me to do better.

By the time I get home, I am able to tell the funny stories of the day, and laugh.  My teenagers giggle at the number of times I’m asked for a kiss, that my butt is slapped or fondled as a question asking method, or that a child pulls down his pants.  They think kindergarten is definitely more x-rated than high school!

Adding the therapy from my family to the therapy already received from colleagues, allows me to confidently and happily face a fresh day each morning . . . which is exactly what the little people I work with deserve.


Changing Behaviour

I’ve been taking an ed. psych. class this past month.  Its focus is on functional behavior assessments and positive behavior support plans, and in amongst the lectures and assignments and reading, this is one of the things that has stuck out for me:

The plan’s effectiveness is determined by the extent to which it results in change in the behavior of the staff and family implementers; and to which those changes in the behavior of staff and family result in change in the behavior of the person receiving support.  (Functional Assessment and Program Development for Problem Behaviors, O’Neill et al.)

This isn’t new information, but how often do I as a teacher get stuck in the trap of thinking it’s only the student who has to change his or her behavior?  Probably more than I’d care to count.  Its been a good reminder to me that change of behaviour doesn’t start with the student at all.  It is up to me, as the adult, to become pliable and change what I’m doing and saying, my actions and reactions.  My behaviour needs to change before I can consider expecting a student’s actions to become more acceptable.

It reminds me of the Haim Ginott quote I always keep near:  “I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom.”  I must remember to change my behaviour in order for those around me to change theirs.