I had the opportunity this week to step away from teaching a field group and be a visiting artist teaching ecosystems through drama. This experience is not exactly as I expected. I worked and reworked my lesson plan, got in front of the kids and things began to change. Cut things, some games worked better than others, re-work and then improvised. Out of all my tweaks today the improvising was by far the most successful and encompassing of the spirit of my lesson. It really reaffirms that I work well on my toes with a few minutes of think time and then perfect upon reflection. I was waiting for a group that was running behind and I was thinking about how I could combine both games into once activity in order to cut time and decided to jump in head first with some SERIOUS novelty. There was not much time to let the instructors know (Which I changed for tomorrow) but I hid behind a tree and when the group came into the field I poked my head out, got their attention and ushered them over to the trees. I was in character as a renegade mouse leader and all us mice had to safely exit out of the field because an owl was watching. We sneaked in and out of bushes and into the wildzone where I interrogated them to find out their names and make sure they were not owl spies. The kids were hooked. Next time I am going to extend the experience, try to share the leadership with the kids and build in a problem that they can help me find a solution for. This will hopefully help them build their own stories through modeling. This technique is definitely something I can implement with my students.
Monday, as always, was the most askew day of the week. Tuesday was a blessing and giving my attention seeking student a job that put him in charge, in a place of power, where I could speak to him often but it was not a personal critique all the time lasted all morning (till he was sick of waiting for the team to hurry up and he realized it was not actually a dictatorship). By Wednesday we had made a little headway on using words over actions. At one point I heard him say, as he was flipping the light switch on and off, "I don't mean to do difficult things all the time." Broke my heart but I told him. I really pulled out the stops with all the behavior strategies we have talked about. We used some positive rewards on occasion when serious motivation was needed. I spent the last two days grappling for moments of success with my really challenging boy. I celebrated verbally every moment any kid did something kind, considerate and not impulsive, especially when it was him. Funny, by the end of yesterday my chaperone started doing it as well. The chaperone that earlier had said the only way to get to this kid was by having severe, real, consequences.
This week was a continuous challenge to try and keep everything balanced while the boat was rocking this way and that, things slipping off the table in every direction. It was exhausting but I feel like I had the opportunity to try so many techniques, tackle so many problems, set really realistic goals not lofty ones and achieve them. I am leaving this group very thankful for the weekend but also for the experience and the lessons I have learned this week. With that being said there are still things to learn. I feel like I spent most on the week in a reactionary place allowing it to drive me. I tried to be proactive but I feel like there was more prepping I could have done and preparing once I had a feeling for what the group would be like. I also hated that I ended up calling the boy out ALL the time and most often in front of the group. Next time I hope there is a little more warning from the teachers about the personalities in my group but if not, when I notice a challenging pattern arising I think I want to catch it as early as possible. Put the rest of the group to task (know what that task will be) pull the kid aside and have a heart to heart like I have done millions of times with my teenagers. It is harder to see when that moment has arrived when you are in the thick of it.
It is interesting how, before Monday, you often have a goal for the week and what you want to focus on and it is very rarely what ends up being the biggest challenge of the week.