The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

September Reflections

I wish I could say that this was an original idea I had. I really do, because it is absolutely brilliant, and I like it when I have absolutely brilliant ideas. Alas, this brilliant idea came to me by way of an online teacher friend who works in a neighbouring community, who in turn got it from another online teacher friend whose blog I have recently discovered. I’m not sure if she came up with this or if she got it from yet another person.

The idea brilliant but it is also wonderfully simple. Students fill out a simple questionnaire that allows them to reflect on how the past month has gone and what they would like to accomplish in the coming month. (The original reflection form can be found here.) The last question was the one that has generated a lot of buzz among the small but mighty network of teacher bloggers. It was given as a simple prompt for the students to complete:

For October, I wish Mr. Valencic would notice…

From what my friends had shared on their blogs, I had an idea of what to expect, but there were some responses that caught me completely off-guard. Here is what my students would like me to notice this month:

  • Students behaving well.
  • Students who are not talking.
  • I do not think he needs to notice anything.
  • I try my best to be a leader.
  • Kickball is not fair sometimes.
  • Nothing.
  • That I had got better at math.
  • That I have been working hard on a story I’m making.
  • I don’t talk that much.
  • Me trying my best.
  • I want him to see me trying my best.
  • If someone is doing something they should not do.
  • I love candy.

Like most teachers, I try to provide specific, clear, positive praise throughout the day. I’d like to think I do a good job doing so. But some of these reflection statements have made me wonder if I am doing enough. I tell my colleagues, my principal, parents, and even my wife the good things that are going on. But do I tell the students? More importantly, do I tell them often? Do I make it clear that I see them there, working, trying, overcoming, accomplishing? Do I see them or, in the words of the Navi people, do I See them?

I know what my goal for this month is going to be. Tomorrow I will be asking my students to set their own goals. Then we will track our goals and hold each other accountable for what we are doing. October is going to be a great month!

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