“What do we have today?” the most oft asked question at Monday’s lunch.
“PLC,” the response.
There was a bit of a lull in the conversation. The third and fourth grade teachers have been working on a PLC aimed at improving student behavior. We began the year full of steam but after our mid-year PLC presentations we have been sort of searching for a second wind.
Right before heading into our meeting at 3:45 I grabbed my new “The Effort Test” chart. Last week, when it became apparent to me that my kids only thought they knew what ‘effort’ was, I jotted a quick definition of what it looks like and feels like. “It’s hard, It takes thinking, It produces results.” The lesson and chart have been helping in my class so I thought I’d show it to the others.
“Here’s what I’ve got!” I announced as I walked into my colleague’s classroom. I grabbed a couple of magnets and hung the chart on the board. Everyone took a few moments to read it over and then we began discussing it and the need to break down the expert words we use with our kids. The words we think they understand but may not. “Think about the times you sat in a meeting and didn’t understand what was going on. Inside your head you figure, ‘everyone else gets it except me, I’m not saying anything!'” Everyone laughed because it is so true! And if our kids don’t understand the language, the concepts, we use, how are they going to take on the heavy lifting?
“Why don’t we ask our classes what words they don’t know?” came one idea. “Or what if we just made up a story, told them we had a faculty meeting and everyone seemed to understand something but me. Ask them if they ever feel that way?” We had a great discussion about how to close the gap between what we ask of our kids and what they actually understand. Then we came to this…
“I feel like our older students (the third and fourth graders) need something to aspire to. Some reward or responsibility they can look forward to being a part of once they finally get to third or fourth grade,” I said. I had been thinking about this recently. Our kids have no reason to be “the role models.” They may not even fully understand what the concept means. Hey, they didn’t really know what it means to put in effort! They need a reason to look forward to becoming third and ultimately fourth graders. Something to work towards, to earn.
Wow, now we were cooking! Suddenly our PLC had new life. The winds were puffing up our sails again! We discussed a lot of different ideas; planned buddy lessons with younger classes, selling the idea of the ‘privilege’ of becoming a recycling monitor (a new responsibility in our school this year, a big hit) or a patrol in grade 4. Figuring out what else we could do to make third and fourth grade something to look forward to so it wasn’t just, “Ok, now I’m in third grade (or fourth grade). Giving our students a reason to be!
So if anyone has a great plan in place I would love to hear it. We are all going into research mode now that we are energized again. So if you read this post and have an idea to share, I’m all ears!