At the beginning of the year I complete some activities about the classroom environment. I look to build a community environment highlighting the classroom is as much theirs as it is mine. We completed a few activities but I wanted to share this particular one because the student responses really helped me understand and get to know them.
One of the activities we did this year was we talked about keeping the good in and the bad out of us in order to do well at school. We had a conversation about what helps us do well at school and what keeps us from doing well. Some responses about what helps us do well at school were: healthy eating, sleeping, completing homework, asking for help. Some of the responses about what bad things can keep us from doing well at school were: being late, not completing homework, eating bad, not getting enough sleep, bullying, people being mean, depression, anxiety.
The last two responses were comments which really made me pay attention to who said them. I immediately contacted the guidance counselor, informed the administration, and spoke to last year’s teachers. These two comments (from two different students) have helped me with my approach to the students. It made me remember, no matter what community you are in students could have a hard life and have a variety of family/life situations to handle. It reminded me of the need to make that connection as a person with the students.
Getting back to the activity; after our lesson, the students got into groups and traced one student in the group. Then as a group, they wrote what helps them to do well at school on the inside of the body and what keeps them from doing well on the outside of the body. The students really enjoyed the activity and every class (from grade 5 to grade 8) has asked to complete the activity. We have the final products hanging in the class as an everyday reminder. This year, I decided to not complete the activity with my prep classes but I will consider it for next year.