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

Because Sometimes We Don’t Need a Reason

Being a PBIS school, we are all about positive behavior interventions and supports. That means that we focus on what students are doing, we focus on how help to them do things better, and we focus on providing positive feedback. That also means that we have celebrations throughout the year when students show that they are meeting or exceeding expectations. When a student messes up (and let’s be honest, we all mess up from time to time), we try to frame the issue in a way that we can build from the positive and use input from students, teachers, families, and administrators in providing the necessary supports and interventions to bring about student success.

In the classroom, we have a lot of strategies for building on the positives. I have a RESPECT board that students can sign to enter a drawing for small prizes. We have a pebble jar that we fill for different reasons throughout the year, working toward incentives. We have small celebrations and large celebrations, all of them tied to a specific event or cause. We recently had a huge school-wide celebration in the form of a students vs. teachers kickball game and a color run. (More on these when I get all of the pictures!) So we have a lot of reasons to celebrate.

But sometimes we don’t need a reason. Sometimes we just celebrate because we can. There isn’t a specific reason. Today we had such a celebration. Our head room parent caught me during lunch and mentioned that she was bringing in ice cream for the first grade class that we have been partnering with all year and she wanted to know if I’d be interested in her bringing ice cream for my class, too. Now, you may not know this, but when it comes to ice cream, I never say no. I love ice cream, maybe even more than I love bacon and reading, and that says quite a lot! (Okay, maybe not more, but they are all at least on equal standing.) So of course I said yes!

After getting back from Dance and reading a chapter from A Single Shard (which we are going to finish before the end of school on Wednesday!), I had the students get their books or writing so that they could SOAR. Then, after they had all gotten started, our HRP came in, dropped off the ice cream, and left. I didn’t say anything to the students at first because I was looking for something for a student. But they all wanted to know what it was. I finally gathered them and explained that we had ice cream. There were three varieties: fudge swirl, strawberry swirl, and vanilla. I asked the students to group together to indicate which kind they would like and, thankfully, we had enough for everyone to get their preferred kind!

Eventually the question came up: why are we having ice cream? I asked why not and a student said, “But there has to be a reason!” I called him over and just said, quietly, “You know, sometimes there doesn’t have to be a reason.” He pondered that for a moment and decided not to look a gift horse in its mouth and cheerfully finished his ice cream. Then everyone got back to reading.

But this has left me wondering, too. As much as we focus on the positive supports, the celebrations, and tying positive outcomes to positive actions, do we make too much of a connection between the two? I am all about celebrating with my students. But I also need to make sure that we do fun things just because. After all, of the four expectations we have established in our classroom, the foundation is having fun. We only have two days left, and I’d like to say that most of the year has been fun, but I am going to make a special focus on including fun things in our last days for no reason at all.

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