During a staff meeting today with our 2 classroom aides, Mrs. Amber, Mrs. Christine and myself, we began discussing how to bring unity and elevated group and social interaction skills to the students in our middle school E.D. program which serves students with emotional disturbances. Programs such as rope courses or team building skills were discussed and have been recognized as successful tools in helping build trust and stronger communication skills for those who participate in them. We started brainstorming...
We were looking for some kind of project worthy of our desired outcome. The idea of a student designed and painted mural, was the first thought that surfaced- something exciting and long lasting that the students would find worthwhile to strive for by working on improving their individual and interpersonal social skills. I recalled a Yahoo News article http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/01/25/uk.boy.charity.haiti/index.html about a young boy in England who has as of today raised over $240K. "It would be great to do a canned food drive or something similar to collect items like personal hygiene kits for the people in Haiti", was where the discussion began. Somewhere around 1994 I participated in a 'jogathon' at Paradise High School, not too far from us. The wheels began to spin and things started turning towards a fundraiser. As the three of us discussed it, it felt like random pieces of a puzzle kept coming up and fitting together and that it was just getting bigger and bigger. An extra piece included soliciting a group of friends who are educators in the Chico area to replicate our plan and thereby double our financial goal.
9 hours later a blog is up with a well sketched out plan, a link to PayPal and the idea that the next month might well entail little sleep and possibly end with a trip to Haiti. We will see how our students respond tomorrow, how excited they are about it, and what they can add on their own.
So we discussed everything as a class today. We went over the blog as well as the skeleton of a plan that we have so far. The kids could hardly contain their ideas. We had to have them write them down along with their questions. We came up with some great overall ideas and fundraisers as well as some management/logistic pieces on how to move forward.
With all this said and done, I am going to send this on over to our Sutter County Superintendent of Schools site administrator, Barbara Hickman, and look for two blazing thumbs up!
FROM HERE ON OUT EVERYTHING IN ITALICS WILL BE REFLECTIONS OF CLASSROOM GROWTH.
In efforts of recognizing and sharing our main focus beyond helping Haiti, we will share steps we have discussed around the topic of social skill building. We have a great model for challenging or frustrating social skills interactions that our students use. "I.T.S.M.E" or It's me...as in "I am responsable for my own communication both good and bad. Ignore (3X's), Talk (respectfully) to the individual who is offending, Share with Staff, Move to a new location, and Evaluate. Jared today quietly turned around to Zac and asked him to stop tapping his pencil on his desk. The request was respectfully honored and occurred with no fanfare from other peers. GREAT JOB! Another discussion we had was how not appologizing to someone often leaves campfire-like buring embers in the individual(s) we have offended. Saying "I'm sorry", is often a great skill and as necessary as dousing your campfire before you pack up camp and head out for the day.