Thursday, 8 August 2013

Taking a swing at 100 day

I didn’t plan to write this blog.  I was responding to a comment posted in something I wrote a year ago,   Rethinking Calendar.   It occurred to me that the response was really an entire post, like it or not.   Tammy asked what the stickers on my Year Long Calendar were. 

On the Twitter,  people are passionate. Right now,  lots of debate around Classroom Behavior Systems.  About calendar and all its inherent evil.  About technology from the git go.  So I thought I might take a swing at 100 day : )  

I drop 100 balloons on my ks every year.  They go batcrap crazy.  You know that you can hit as hard as you want with a balloon, right?  That your teacher’s hair will stand straight up.  That you can actually giggle until you pee a little bit.  

Getting ready for 100 day looks pretty standard.  Number lines, popsicle sticks (those make me cranky, so never used ‘em), collections of 10s. Everyday, at calendar time.  I’ve used stones, unifix cubes.  Stickers on calendars.  Always comforting the ks who worry that there is no 101 day. Or that they will be shipped off to Grade One.  

Then one year I forgot to keep track.  Opps.  In December I was pondering my options.  By January I knew I had better do something.  The sacredness of counting everyday we were in school was in jeopardy.  And seriously,  you cannot fake a daily routine into a 5 year old world.  They are gonna notice.  Why yes Ks, that 75 piece caterpillar just magically appeared on the weekend : ) 

So that year, we pulled apart an old calendar.   It was the beginning of my exploration in using a full year calendar rather than one month.  We figured out how many days we had been in school.  Messy, mistakes, and even then we double checked with another class and we were still wrong.  It didn’t matter.  We were on track. 100 Day was saved.  

But it helped me to see that counting each day, on the day, was routine, but not real.   

Last few years we didn't keep track at all.  One year we were doing a Paper Chain Investigation for the Big Kids when it came up. Another year a big buddy mentioned it.  I’ve come to see the Grade Ones are really the focus for 100 Day in my mind, so last year they came in and showed off every time they reached a milestone to 100.  

We did get into a big discussion about when Half Way Day was.  Not halfway to 100 easypeasy™, but half way through our year together,  thanks to a twitter conversation with @happycampergirl.      We folded our year long calendar.  We used cubes. We were down the long hall breaking counters into halves.  We had the discussion about if the weekends count.   No matter what way we did it, we missed the latest possible Half Way Day by 4 days : )  

So.  I still drop 100 balloons on the ks heads.  They still bring in a collection of 100 things.  I always ask how they gathered it. One k informed me that her collection must be magic because it just showed up on her table that morning.  But 100 Day is for our Grade One classes.  It is their baby.  I am happy to let it go for my weeds.  

I am not one to dole out advice.  I still think of myself as a newbie, 26 years in.  But I am not. I have had years of reflection and mistakes. Of trial and error. Of thought and sweat and monumental screw-ups.  Of blindly going where no one else would go. I come to many of the things that I do with the weight of experience behind me, sometimes blinding me. 

So. As you read the 101 blogs pulling in 102 directions. As you ponder the Behavior System, What?!! No Calendar, Dump 100 Day,  Cute vs No Cute, please remember. 
It takes time.  

Time to find yourself in the children that you teach.  Some things can wait.  You will find the thing that cannot wait.  Do that.  Because there will be a child, a moment, a conversation, that creates a shift in your thinking.   There is power in that.  But it takes time.  

More than 100 days sometimes : )  

Sunday, 4 August 2013


I like to brag that I am a life long learner.  Quick brain, voracious reader, lover of tangents and pushing the edges.  Absorbing, reflecting, re-thinking.  I am all about that, baby.    

I confess, it may very well be because I have allowed my profession to consume me.  I can say it is my passion, and my calling.  It would be true, but what if.  What if I am just so immersed in my little world I fail to see outside it?  What if by immersing oneself in a singular, though multi-faceted, passion is a tiny bit of a cop out.  

Because I fear that I hit the wall this summer.  I was put into a very simple setting where my Arrogance tip-toed up, and whispered in my ear,  “Gonna mess with you a little bit : )” 

It changed the way that I look at things.  It is easy to be a life long learner if you follow paths that feel unwalked, but that are really just tangents down Comfortzone Lane.  

So.  A dream? To face facts. To be a real learner. Face the mess, and disappointment, and failure, and find the path back in spite and because of it.  'Cause I can preach it all I like, but in my arrogance, I saw the “easy peasy™, my brain like it stuff” as learning. 

Learning is like being in a room where you don’t speak the language.  You compensate, you concentrate, you try, you fake it, you get blank looks and helpful feedback.  Arrogance winks at you and says “Give up yet?”  And you do.  Because this is actually hard.  And really, when was the last time you learned something hard? Why can’t everyone just speak my language?  What do you do when you have lost your voice?

So.  A few years ago choosing a guiding word for your school year was a thing.  It still is.  It is a good thing.  I chose words like Trust. Relationships. Listen.  

This year my word was going to be Arrogance.  It has smiled at me a few too many times in the past few months to ignore.  But maybe my word is Language.  

Language connects and divides.  It enlightens and excludes.  It can be confusing and delightful.  Language can take your voice and give it back.  

My littlest life-long learners are coming to a time in their lives where the big people are speaking a different language. School. Oh, we all speak English, but I can imagine there is a Charlie Brown “Mmwaa Mwaaa” going on for sure.  I can’t dummy it down.  Speaking slowly will not help.  It won’t magically make sense if everyone just tries hard enough. 

So.  Time to honour the language of children. So that they never lose their voice.  Because if someone is not speaking my language,  it is time I learned theirs.