Monday, April 4, 2011

My Class Sentence

PrintI just finished reading What if it is that simple… from Blogush by Paul Bogush. He talks about a survey where students were asked if anyone would miss them if they were absent and almost everyone marked no. He decided to build an environment to ensure this did not happen. Then he asks,

“I would like to throw it back to you…what is “the sentence” for your class?  I am trying to figure out what mine would be.  I am thinking of adding that question to the end of the year evaluation I give to the kids.  Right now based on past evaluations and emails,  I would go with “A safe place to be yourself.”  I have been preparing my session for NELMS entitled “First Day of School.”  In it I am reproducing my first day.  In the beginning I talk about my room as being a different place, a special place.  One in which you can be yourself, and are all connected.  I can kind of picture a bumper sticker with that sentence hanging above my door in the fall.”

I have mentioned this before but I think it is worthy of mentioning again. My class sentence has been:

I am a born winner!

On the first day of class, my students are introduced to this sentence and told it is the most important thing they will learn all year. I feel that every person on this earth was a winner as soon as they were born. We struggled during birth to come into this world and it was a cold and scary place, compared to where we spent the previous 9 or so months. We were born to succeed but along the way people, feelings, and thoughts grow into obstacles that keep us from this success. It is this major thought that we need to keep in the front of our minds whenever we confront an obstacle.

Many of my high school special ed students are worn down emotionally and mentally by the time they reached my class. They needed this reminder of who they were and what they were capable of and it was my job to do the reminding!

I made a poster of this sentence for every wall in the classroom so that whichever way they may be facing at any time, they could see this sentence.

Any paper that was turned in for a grade had to have this written on their paper or I wouldn’t accept it.

Throughout the class, I may randomly ask a student what our class motto was and it they replied, “I am a born winner!” they received a reward.

Soon I began to see my students walking with more confidence. They began to lift their heads up with pride. They began to believe in what they were saying (because they knew it was the truth).

Other teachers even began to notice the difference. These students began to make an effort in their classes and even asked for help. Some teachers mentioned that they noticed this sentence on papers the student turned in during their class. I was so glad to see this idea spilling out into their lives and not just in my class.

This small sentence began to make a difference.

Even years later, it warms my heart when I hear from former students who tell me they still use this sentence in their lives. It makes me feel good that this one little sentence could make a difference after all these years and I’m glad that they realized it was useful in their lives even after they left school.

Then it makes me want to tell everyone I know that this doesn’t just apply to my students but to everyone in the world. I want my friends and family to know that I see them as born winners too.

Even people that I come in contact for a short period of time like salespeople, receptionists, acquaintances, are all born winners even if they don’t come across that way at the time. Even born winners can have a bad day so when I come across someone disagreeable or who irritates me, I need to remember that they too are born winners.

So, what sentence do you use? If you don’t use one, what one would you like to use?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Sentience Structure'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8344872@N05/4245830972
by: Alex Eylar

2 comments:

Sioux said...

Pat---I am going to steal this and use it next year, but I'm going to add " and my dreams can come true!"

This was a great post!

loonyhiker said...

@Sioux I love your addition! Hope you find it as effective as I did!