Planning for an Absence
Because of the various district task forces I am a part of, as well as a professional inquiry group, I have quite a few planned absences for this year. Most of them are for just half days scattered throughout the year, but there are some planned absences that will be for an entire day. Two of these absences I have each year are both in November. The first one already came: Election Day. As a Judge of the Election for Champaign County, I can plan on being gone on the first Tuesday of November every year.
The other absence will be tomorrow. My mother in on the school board in my hometown and gets to attend the Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and the Illinois Association of School Business Officials. (Also known as the Triple I Conference because JACIASBIASAIASBO doesn’t really lend itself to easy pronunciation.) As a schoolb board member, she is allowed to invite guests to attend the conference with her. My wife and I went with her last year and had a wonderful time. I learned about amazing resources available to our schools and met some really impressive school leaders and researchers. So when we were invited to attend again this year, we gladly accepted!
Knowing for such a long time that I would be gone tomorrow, I have been helping my students plan for my absence. They know who my substitute teacher will be, they know what they will be working on, and they know what the expectations will be. (We reviewed the expectations this morning and reinforced that our classroom expectations are the same whether I am here or not!) We’ve also been talking about consequences for following expectations and consequences for not following them.
This last part has been an interesting conversation because we often associate “consequences” with “punishment” instead of “the result of an action or choice.” The consequences of doing what you are supposed to do is you get to continue to do things that you find pleasant, enjoyable, or worthwhile. In a classroom setting, you get to continue learning, participating, being with your peers, and receiving positive attention from classmates, teachers, and parents. The consequences of making poor decisions are a removal of privileges, having to do things that are less desirable, being separated from peers, and gaining negative attention.
While I am traveling to Chicago and spending the weekend learning about school leaders, technology integration, family engagement, and new tools and resources, I am confident that my students will be doing what they are supposed to be doing so that they can receive the positive consequences of doing the right thing!