Thursday, October 19, 2006

Why Do Things Work Out Beautifully Some Days...

but not others?

I tried posting earlier this week, but I either had run out of time on the computer or Blogger was really, really slow.

I can't remember how Monday went. I just remember feeling discouraged Tuesday morning, trying to figure out, once again, how to help everybody with their work when they all wanted to work with me, with my undivided attention.

I babbled in my HST+ journal for a bit that morning. One thing I wrote was, "I need to reassess, pray, ponder and pray some more." It's been two days, so I no longer remember what I did after that, but everything fell together wonderfully. The 12yo and dd wanted to play outside in the snow. They ended up signing contracts that they promised they would get certain things done after they came back in. They went outside and I was able to work with the 15yo by herself. They came back in and dd was frozen, so she was busy warming up and I worked alone with the 12yo. The 15yo had reached independent work by that point. Then I was able to do things with dd. It's not the sort of setup I'd prefer, but it has me thinking about perhaps focusing less on getting dd and the 12yo to do a full three hours of work and just jam-packing in some, or figuring out other ways to make sure each child does get some alone time with me. I'm also considering doing the contracts on a daily basis. I didn't do it yesterday because we were all so sluggish. (What is it about Wednesdays??) I have heard of a number of Montessori schools doing these contracts. My gut reaction is that this is not really a Montessori technique and goes somewhat against the principle of allowing the children to flow from one activity to another, but I do not really have a Montessori environment. I've realized this before and tried to work on it, but I'm fighting it less and just trying to make sure I meet the kids', and my, needs in whatever way will work.

The 12yo has had a little boost this week in attitude. Not sure why. But he's a little more eager to do things, learn things. He overheard me talking to his dad--which I purposefully did--and he came to me afterwards saying that he didn't want to do silent reading but read with me. I told him we'd have to work on getting more reading sessions in if he wasn't going to read silently and he said that was okay. My instincts tell me this will be a temporary thing. What little we've been managing to do from The Writing Road to Reading is already making a bit of a difference and something in me says that he wants a better handle on the phonics and syllables before going off to read on his own. If I can get 2 or 3 reading sessions in with him per day--say literature, social studies and something he's interested in--I'll be able to assign him some short passages for silent reading soon and he'll be okay with it. The confidence has to be built up.

Speaking of confidence, I'm reminded of The Marva Collins Way which I'm re-reading right now. I think I'm going to have to buy the book and stop borrowing it from the library. Her primary focus is on confidence and attitudes, all filtered through the education she's providing. A student's attitude makes all the difference. And their attitude is affected by their level of confidence. The fussing about work is not about me or the work, but about their confidence and attitude. I don't recall ever fussing about school work when I was in school. But my focus was on learning and doing well and I was determined to do it. The only time fears came into play was for oral presentations and social studies tests. ;) But I can look back now and see how attitudes got in the way of many students' success. And if those attitudes don't change while they're in school... I don't want that for these kids--mine or the others.

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