One of the great benefits of working at Brownell is that I am able to continue my learning with fellow teachers. This year we have divided into groups to study different books so we can continue to grow as teachers to help our students. We meet monthly for collaborative conversations and food!
Our first assignment- was to read the first section about Enhancing Relationships. In this section The 10 chapters include Emotional Links, Metaphors, Rules, Guidelines and Agreements, Choice, Stress Reduction, Put- Ups, Breathing Techniques, Relaxation, Eliminating Extrinsic Rewards and Punishment and Consequences. Since this is a teacher led Book Study, we decided how much to read and so it was ‘easy” to fit in the time to read the assignment- as a result the chapter on Choice reinforced the importance of choice for both our work and for the students to feel successful and to take ownership for their learning. We read 10 very interesting chapters to help with enhancing our relationships but I know from my own experience that I can only focus on a few at a time.
Personally, one of my most important goals in teaching is the importance of having a working relationship with my students. As an ELL teacher who has the opportunity to work with students for multiple years and often with siblings with in a family, the benefits of knowing a student over the years has been so helpful in helping students. When I taught 5th graders a few years ago, they were so excited to be able to look at their Kindergarten pictures in the ABC book I had made. When work got hard, I was able to remind a few of them of how much they had learned from when I had them in Kindergarten and I could often say, did you you act like this in Kindergarten, why would you want to do that now.
As both a teacher and parent, I was thankful for the chapter on Eliminating Extrinsic Rewards. As a young swimmer I thought I needed to be bribed with candy and money to get faster at swimming, however I found that when I “given a carrot” I really did not perform as well compared to when I swam to improve myself. In school I prefered to learn so that I can could figure out solutions to problems or questions not just to earn a sticker. I teach for the intrinsic value of teaching, yes the paycheck helps and I wish I had a larger paycheck, but I love teaching for the value of teaching the next generation of students.
Another chapter that really resonated with me is the chapter on Stress Reduction. The brain’s main purpose is survival, with having a new baby I totally understand the importance of reducing stress so that I can learn. This is very true with the students that I work with. Many students come from stressfull situations at home, as a result they are not necessarily at school to learn but to have basic needs met. If those basic needs are met, including their emotional needs, then they can start to learn. It takes time to build trust and emotional support, once that occurs then learning can begin.
A new term that I learned with Put- up, I am very familiar with Put downs. Put ups are the exact opposite of Put downs. I am often very hard on myself for what I can do in a lesson, or for a student or in a day. However, when I celebrate the successes that do occur during lessons, then I am more positive and am able to get even more accomplished. This is true for our students,