A month of ‘Things That Happened Today’ – a cup of milk

Every month the Daegu Reflective Practice Group makes reflective goals for the month. And nearly every month, I fail to complete mine (or even remember what it was most of the time). Last month, we all committed to bring an incident to reflect on so there would be plenty of material for the workshop (which is tomorrow and is being facilitated by a guest: Mr. Bryan Hale). I realized upon making this commitment that I almost never remember a thing that happened at school without a lot of effort. By the end of a school day, I normally just want to crawl in bed and try again tomorrow. But I didn’t want to come empty-handed, so I made the rather ambitious goal of keeping a running log of at least one of the myriad things that happen each day… for each day. 

What follows is four weeks of things that happened, with edits for clarity where possible and a few pretty pictures that might be related.

Things that happened today:

3/23

What are students made of? What are teachers made of?

I took a picture of what happened when we talked about this in Esther’s class.

What is anybody made of, really?

What is anybody made of, really?

3/24

Sera’s story of Trevor’s stick up the dog’s butt joke. She also said he gave the finger to a teacher and ran away. And a lot of other bad boy things. She thought it was all hilarious. I asked him what he was playing at, and he said it was a comic he’d drawn and it didn’t really happen. I think I was most bothered by fact that they all found it so funny. Except the violent kid – he thought animal cruelty is horrible.

*Editor’s note: this came up again today in a conversation with another teacher about how Trevor tells stories.

3/25

I don’t remember.

*Editor’s note: I don’t remember what happened in class this day, but I have a very clear memory of why not.

3/26

Today I gave the M2s their new free writing notebooks and pencils to go with. Then we did free-writing in class to begin the notebooks and I took them away again. I wonder if that was the right thing to do.

*Editor’s note: they were very excited when I gave back their notebooks with comments for each of them.

3/27

I was reading a story about trolls who came and stole a sleeping baby while her sister wasn’t watching. While I was reading, Paul and Sera got into an argument. I stopped to see if they would resolve it. They didn’t. So I put the book away. Some of the other students were annoyed because they wanted to hear more of the story.

3/30

‘Tom’ walks in the classroom to the usual chorus of groans. I don’t know how to stop them from ostracizing him. I don’t know how to teach him acceptable classroom behaviour. Julie, who wasn’t paying attention anyway, interrupts the class to tell me that Tom has been sticking his tongue out at her. Tom says she started it. She says he started it. I wish they would stop it.

3/31

Ellen just flat out refused to work today. No idea why. She put her head down and wouldn’t participate. She wouldn’t speak during the group speaking task, even when her group members tried to engage her and I backed off. She wouldn’t read during the reading task. When I asked her if she had some reason, she said “no.”

Another thing that happened was I realized that kids don’t know how to look at pictures in a story book.

Editor’s note: since I discovered that, I started teaching them to notice the pictures (which are really where the story is).

4/1

April Fools’ Day

4/2

The Thoughts and Notions class Kakao Group. (I blogged this one because it was such an interesting experience)

4/3

Today I changed the seats in NP5 by lottery (pick a card and line up alphabetically according to your card). Ellie was so angry about it, she moped for the rest of the class. Her mood seemed to affect her group, who look to her as a leader (as most of the class does).

Editor’s note: I also remember that when the class ended that day, she came up to me to tell me that she wouldn’t do my homework. I told her to give it a try.

4/6

M3 debates: The first group worked out really well. The timing was almost perfect and their arguments were clear, concise, and well-prepared. They also used their survey tools. That was fantastic. The second class was not a train wreck, but not nearly as good. They spoke in Korean a lot, used their phones and dictionaries during the debate, and had a really hard time understanding not only their opponents’ arguments, but their own as well. Their topic was too hard, I think.

4/7

Total lack of clarity about homework in the M1 classes and I didn’t really remember either what had been assigned. One new kakao group made.

4/8

The mind maps from Junho’s class and Michelle’s class. Peter and Ben had a tiff but Ben didn’t know why.

They haven't generated this much language ever. Now, to get them to use it!

They haven’t generated this much language ever. Now, to get them to use it!

4/9

The kakaotalk group class. All but one did their homework. Seriously. And so since they’d done it we were able to make questions about the text and play Golden Bell. Max and Mike won the game – the two weakest students. Their next teacher reported that they came to class smiling and seemed more confident and happy and cohesive as a group than before.

4/10

Ellie refused to do the reading: “I skimmed it and I think it’s not interesting to me.” But she was clearly in an awful mood for whatever reason, so I asked her to read it again on Sunday and see if it was interesting then. Later I found out that she was in a bad mood because she had mistakenly told the other students in her class wrong information and half the class came unprepared and it was “her fault” in a sense. No wonder she was in a bad mood.

4/13

Katie and Heather’s compliments in other cultures. The difference between singular and plural compliments: Good job! I liked that song. Vs Good job! I like that song. Katie’s response: Oh, no. It was not good. It was just so so. Which led to a mini-discussion on how different cultures respond to compliments (In Korea brush it off; In the USA acknowledge it – we’d all love to know how you respond to compliments!).

*Editor’s note: This conversation might be related to the upcoming #KELTchat.

4/14

The M1 debate disaster – only three students talked and as it turned out, they didn’t understand their topic well enough or the information they had found well enough to explain it to the other team (or me). Six silent students, and in the end everyone had the same opinion anyway. What a fail. I wish I’d recorded it. But I think what happened is that they didn’t have clear enough tasks while they were preparing and I rushed them because they’re going to be off for two weeks. Next time I’ll remember this.

4/15

Somehow nothing at all got done in OW1 except a spelling test about the months and a memory game using “I want/ He/She wants”. And suddenly the time was over. I don’t know how that happened.

4/16

Homework charts finished. Most of the kids get gifts. And I’m the fool who lets them choose. Anyway, so little Paul says he wants o-gamja, the blue one. It’s a potato chips brand. So I went shopping and there were orange, green, and a sky-blue at the store. I got the one that was not orange or green, but was a little surprised because it said it was onion flavored. As soon as I pull it out of the bag, he starts complaining that it’s all wrong. And I overreacted. I just tied up the bag again and said, we’ll just do this later. And I was too angry to talk so I wrote a note on the board for him that said, ‘It’s a gift. Next time, just smile and say thanks.’ But then I changed my mind and gave everyone their gifts anyway. Now I realize that I had failed to leave my baggage at my classroom door and little Paul is in no way to blame (although he was, by my standards, a little rude – he had every right to express that he hadn’t got what he wanted).

4/17

I made amends with little Paul and got him the right snack. He said thank you.

I played pictionary with the phonics kids. I didn’t let them draw, though.

I found more mystery puzzles for the M3s because they love those.

Oh, and I took a picture of my graffiti wall. Three weeks of student art. One group asked for a new paper. I said no.

20150417_212137-1

What I learned from the process – lots of things happen every day and it is really hard to decide what is important and what isn’t. Also, writing stuff down isn’t enough. It’s important to go back and read it. Some of the things that seemed important at the time seem pretty trivial now. I wonder what that means. I wonder what I should have remembered about those days. For example, I remember now yelling at a student about his racist comment. How did I not write that down? What did I write instead on that day? I notice I wrote a lot about individual students and their feelings or attitudes, and less about lessons and successes and failures and challenges. This is just the beginning and maybe it would be more useful to focus on a single class each day next month and see how the posts develop. 

TL;DR – stuff happened. I wrote it down. Pretty pictures.

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Comments

  • annloseva  On April 19, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    It is fantastic just how many things are happening to us and how much/ little they can really mean in the end. As time goes by and I look back at moments that frustrated me so much, I often find them so.. yes, trivial. My wonder is how to see the difference between what counts and what just passes.

    THanks for this post, it really is a treasure of sorts to me, and also something I would love to do.
    When my time comes.

    • livinglearning  On April 28, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks, Anna. It’s interesting, I think, how some of the times when I feel most vulnerable I can look back and wonder what I was so scared would happen. A lot of things happen every day, and now I’m learning to look for patterns. Of course, unless I write it down, I’ll never find them.

      Thank you again for reading and taking the time to comment.

  • Rose Bard  On April 20, 2015 at 6:34 am

    This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing Anne. 🙂

  • Sandy Millin  On April 24, 2015 at 2:58 am

    Thanks for sharing these Anne and well done for achieving your goal! This sounds like a very good way of starting a teaching journal because you have a clear focus of writing down one thing each day.
    However, you commented at the end that ‘writing stuff down isn’t enough’ so here’s an idea for the next step. I’m reading ‘Professional Development for Language Teachers’ by Jack C. Richards and Thomas S. C. Farrell, and I’ve just learnt about the idea of reflecting on critical incidents and/or putting together longer case studies. Have you heard about these approaches? I wonder if some of the things you’ve written down would benefit from being approached as critical incidents or case studies. Perhaps you could choose one or two of the particular problem areas that come up again and again, like ‘Tom’ on 30th March, as a focus and go into more depth with it. It’s not an approach I’ve heard/read about before and I’m wondering about trying it when I (eventually!) get back into the classroom.
    Hope that helps in some way!
    Sandy

    • livinglearning  On April 28, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      Hi Sandy,
      Thanks for the suggestion. I would love to do something like that. I intend to have more focus in my journal-type-thing in the coming months, and we’ll see what comes out of it. I really appreciate your help, and of course that you stopped by to read and comment!
      Anne

Trackbacks

  • By Drafted to be written | Ann Loseva's Space on August 25, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    […] 8. things I learnt from my students today – a focused day reflection, an idea which might have been inspired by one of Anne Hendler’s posts […]

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