Someone at my school thought it would be cool to have our students spend a little time one day with the teachers they will presumably have next year. Today around 60 fifth grade wannabes entered my room for a little get-to-know-each-other chat. What a learning experience it was for me!
I asked my students to write down who they’d want to sit next to, who they definitely did NOT want to sit next to, what their favorite book is, what they’re really good at, and what their worst subject is.
Some interesting patterns emerged. I plan on making a sociogram this weekend – I’m just that much of a dork. The majority of the students were polite, interested, and friendly. Three students had behavior issues in the short 20 minutes they were with me. R just wouldn’t stop talking and goofing. His pal S got sent to the back table when he wouldn’t stop talking after repeated requests, and L didn’t get his way, said class was stupid, covered his head with his jacket hood, and then yelled “Shut up” when someone told me he’s like that all the time.
Guess which names appeared most often on the “don’t want to sit next to” lists? Yep. R, S, and L.
Of course my mission has become to get R and L to like themselves better. S is moving or he’s be on the list, too. After speaking with a colleague, I learned R wants to do well. He is overweight, gaining weight all the time, and doesn’t like attention drawn to himself. But this colleague helped him write a story one day after his own teacher was less than encouraging. He wrote a great story and actually scored above average on our state writing test. There is a glimmer of flame, if I can fan it into fire before his lousy sense of self-worth snuffs it out.
Then there’s L. No one had anything nice to say about this kid. Even the music teacher, who is a huge child advocate (shouldn’t we all be?) had nothing good to say. On his survey he wrote that he’s really good at drumming. His sister, who is my current student, told me he doesn’t have a drum or know how to play, but he wants to. The same colleague who talked to me about R said L is also good at origami. That’s two possible hooks! When I spoke with the music teacher, she confirmed that he is a kinesthetic learner, which means he learns by moving and doing. Unfortunately, public schools are rarely conducive to kinesthetic learners. She also agreed to look around for some drum sticks and check ebay for a drum pad, because she’s just that awesome!
So in one day I’ve learned that the worst behavior problem I’m going to see isn’t just a jerk, he’s a kinesthetic learner who can’t seem to do anything right, and he’s gotten pretty damn defensive about it. The line I heard from everyone is “He won’t do a thing in class.” Nope. Because he doesn’t learn well by writing, reading, or listening. He learns by doing. So is the problem with L, or with the education we are giving him?
Guess who I requested to be in my class next year? Mr. Kinesthetic.
My instincts on why he is such a behavior problem were validated this afternoon when I ran across this video. Watch it and see if you agree!