Ok. Let’s get the big one out of the way first:
- LIke many of you, I once had a behaviour chart in my classroom. It was only my second year of teaching, I had a challenging, LOUD, chaotic group of kids.I had little support from my admins. I was exhausted, and I needed SOMETHING. So, I made a chart, with coloured cards and “parent contact” as a consequence (and, to be fair, also as a reward if a child did something exceptionally wonderful). But the existence of the chart is not my REAL confession. The REAL part is this: there was a child in that class who, I learned, was subject to inappropriately harsh punishment at home if he lost a card. And when I learned that: I DIDN’T TAKE THE CHART DOWN. I moved it, so his parents couldn’t see it through the classroom doorway. I went a little easier on the child, so that he lost fewer cards. But I didn’t take it down.
Ouch, right? Yeah, I live with that ghost every day, especially since my post about why I DON’T do behaviour charts went nearly-viral. You’ll note that the post does not say I have NEVER used one. And, upon reflection, my shame over the one behaviour chart I DID use is probably part of why I am so adamant about them now… But still. I didn’t take that chart down. And I kick myself for it every single day.
Now, for the fluffier stuff – the things I do, or have done, that I am often cautious about admitting…
- I like colouring pages, and I use them in my classroom. Not every day, not even most days, but I do put them out for the kids once in a while: to settle them after a rowdy assembly, to fill an unexpected transition, to soothe tired kids after an exhausting field trip. I prefer mandala style pages, so there is not RIGHT or WRONG colour choices, but sometimes we colour castles, flowers, rainbows, animals. There is something undeniably soothing about colouring, even for adults. Children are almost universally drawn to it, and I think that means there has to be something developmentally valuable in it, even if many many ECE experts rail against colouring books as “murderers of creativity.”
- I like my classroom quiet. Not silent, by any means, but quiet, with a steady buzz (rather than a roar) of activity. This seems unpopular in many DAP ECE circles, but there it is. I think quiet is good for kids, good for all of us. Noise makes me start to feel anxious, and if it does that to me, surely it does that to some kids, too.
- I let my kindergarten students use erasers. I don’t understand the (apparently VERY STRONGLY HELD) belief that they should not get erasers in kindergarten. Kids know when a letter or number does not look the way it is supposed to look. I feel like they need to be allowed to fix it. As an adult, I would HATE IT if someone told me I was not allowed to fix my mistakes or improve my work.
- I do not read professional development books in the summer. I read FICTION. Plot-driven, interesting, not-trashy-but-not-too-dense, chewy, stay-up-late-to-see-what-happens-next, FICTION. I read it on my couch, on my patio, on the beach, at the pool, on the plane. When I do housework, I listen to FICTION. When I do a road trip, I listen to FICTION. Occasionally, I throw in a good biography or autobiography, or ethnography, but that’s it. I want STORIES.
- I feel incompetent and inadequately dedicated to my profession when I hear and read about other teachers and all the PD reading they do over summer. Honest to God, for at least a few weeks every year, I need to NOT be Miss Night. I love being Miss Night. I am PROUD to be her. But for just a few weeks, I like to just be Amy. Amy who reads fiction and watches documentaries and lets a 10 min dog walk turn into a 2 hour ramble all over my neighbourhood. Amy who does ballet workouts in the living room. Amy who hangs out with friends and family DURING THE WEEK.
And, maybe, that is my biggest confession of all: I sometimes wonder if I am inadequately dedicated to this teaching business. I don’t read e-mail in the evenings, on weekends, or holidays. I make excellent use of my “out of office” message. I don’t spend hours combing pinterest for new ideas. I have never gone anywhere near Teachers Pay Teachers. My blog is not cute, and it has no polka dots. In the summer, I stay FAR AWAY from my classroom for several weeks and refuse to even think about it. Summer, for me, is not “time to do all the teacher projects I don’t have time for during the year.” Summer is time to BE ME in a way I don’t have time for during the year.
There. It’s out.
May we all Go Forth and Sin No More.