Sunday, November 10, 2013

Motivating Students with a Family Meeting

It seems like the time of year when everyone is settled in, all our friends know each other well, and a little bit of fussing ensues. Maybe it's the fact that we need a break. Maybe it's the standardized testing after standardized testing. Maybe we've become as comfortable with each other as we are with our families at home. Whatever it is, it happens every year at about this time. True? Even the BFFs in my class are getting on each others' nerves, and everyone's just a little bit on edge.

I'm linking up with Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturday series with a couple of ideas.


Well, I've been thinking pretty hard on this one, and this week, I decided to take a family tradition with me to school. It's the "Family Meeting".
At our house, we have a weekly meeting on Sunday afternoons in the living room. Daddy is in charge, I take minutes, and everyone gets to talk about anything they want, including rules, meal plans, agendas, feelings, plans, and our family fun money (our weekly budgeted "allowance" for family activities). It was kind of spur of the moment when I decided, but my school babies just weren't getting along, and I knew just what we needed.

So, we walked down the hall a bit, and met in a vacant room (for a change of scenery, as well as some "neutral" ground). Everyone was able to tell how they were feeling, what was going well and what wasn't, and if anything was bothering him or her. At first, it was a little hard to get everyone to open up, but once one did, they all did, and we had a great discussion about feelings, how we treat others, that uncomfortable feeling of not knowing how to do something (which I explained is called learning, and is why we go to school), and adding some rules to our class set.

The pretty version was somehow overlooked!
The kids came up with "Treat others the way you want to be treated" and "Be nice and kind". Actually, these "rules" were already beautifully printed and framed in my classroom, but I think they were seen as decor, not rules, so I just made hand-written posters and put them on the front wall.
After our meeting, things seemed better, and I could easily refer to our discussion when friends began to fuss at each other. I think after a couple of meetings, we'll learn to understand each other better, love each other for who we each are, and be kinder, more considerate in general. Okay, maybe we still need fall break, but between Christmas and Presidents' Day is just a way longer time!

I was also asked to review a new computer program this week, and will share that with you very soon. I hope it will be motivational for two students in my class who are quite talented in mathematics. They'll be able to use the program at a self-paced rate, and it seems that it pre-tests them, finds their weaknesses, and creates lessons based on those target areas. I know technology is always motivational to kids, so I'm excited to see just how this will work.

Well, it's technically not Saturday anymore, so I'm off to bed - teaching Sunday School in the morning, and I need some r-e-s-t!

Hugs, Y'all,
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8 comments:

  1. The children always say the right things, don't they - I do the classroom rules with the children now - I used to create a beautiful poster before school even started and they never looked at them!

    Alison
    Teaching Maths with Meaning

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    1. You're right - it's crazy how much attention people pay to hand-written signs, rather than beautifully printed posters! Someone once told me if she wanted people to actually notice something she posted on her door, she always just hand wrote it. Otherwise, it got ignored!

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  2. I know exactly what you are referring to. I've got a 5th grade looping class. Not only are emotions high, but we've been together for a long time. I need to bust out my "how I'm feeling box" with them. It always helps. I really like the idea of finding a neutral space! Thanks for sharing.
    Alison

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    1. Girl, I need to know what that box is! Do you have a real box??? It sounds wonderful!
      Brooke

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Brooke