Sunday, November 4, 2012


Social skills? Do I have any? Some times.

I've learned a lot by watching other people and how they interact. But I've also learned by direct instruction.

My school has homeroom every day.

Homeroom is a multi-grade grouping of students (about 17-20) assigned to one teacher. If a student has a sibling at the school the sibling is in the same homeroom.

It is very handy to have homeroom. That is how chores are done. Last year's chores were a bit different than this year's chores. My chore week starts tomorrow. Nothing like having chore duty the week of your birthday, right? Also included in chores are watering in the greenhouse and collecting the recycling from the classrooms.

We have occasionally had family-syle meals in our classroom. This is done with homerooms as well.

But with 10 homerooms this year, all taking turns, what to do with those 20 minutes if you don't have chores? Years ago the teachers that created our charter school thought it would be great to exercise as a school.

It is great. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays you can catch about 150 students, teachers and staff outside walking the path from 8:05 to 8:25. The path is 1/3 mile around. If I hurry I usually get in 2 laps. I even speed walk.

Why can't I get in more laps? Mostly because my homeroom is the last to get outside every day. We are in my class greeting each other.

We learned early on about proper (for the USA anyway) etiquette for greeting, and hand shaking. And since we are a farm school, we need to know how to shake hands like farmers do.

These are the guidelines that we follow:
     1. Use the right hand to shake
     2. Look the other person in the eye
     3. Use the other person's name in your greeting
     4. Smile

This took a lot of time teaching and practicing, but now we are sooooo good at it. It is sort of like a receiving line. As the students come into the class they greet me, greet everyone else in line, and then get in line at the end and continue to greet those behind them. It is really pretty slick to watch.

One day soon after we started this a third grade girl found me outside while walking and said "Mrs. Bartel, the kindergartner (and she used her name) knew my name!" She was so excited. Now we can talk about how we feel when someone knows our name and uses it.

Wednesday homerooms are a lesson day. I started the year reading about Shubert. But this past week I decided to try something different.

I brought in some toys from my home, and taught the kids how to play. What it looks likes, sounds like, feels like. I had a couple of kids model the correct way to play, and incorrect way to play.

One of the best parts of multi-aged homeroom is the kindergartner and first grade students can see how to behave like a third and fourth grade student. What great modeling and leadership.

I had Lincoln Logs, a play kitchen, some motorcycles and tracks, and (of course) books.

I spent my time helping students use their words. How to ask to play. How to respond when someone asks them to play. It takes guts to be vulnerable and ask, please be kind in your response.

We didn't get to play on Wednesday last week. We were parading downtown to get candy. But we did play on Friday and I brought in my Little People farm. Big hit.

Hopefully I will get pictures of us choring this week. My boots are dirty and ready to go.
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