What a Success!
The fourth quarter of the school year was about to start and we decided to move up some students who were academically progressing to a new grade level. I was delighted, excited, and yet a little bit nervous thinking that I would have a new student who is intelligent, gifted, and of course, well-loved by everyone both in school and in the shelter.
The first few weeks were filled with many things to adapt to, and I prayed that the new student would not be too overwhelmed by the change. Slowly, with the help of the responsive classroom approach we implemented, it supports the student to have an easy transition to a new environment.
In our school, we usually do our morning routines such as greetings, group sharing activities, reading of the morning message, and praying before we start our classes. One of the best memories of my journey with this boy was when he first greeted me with my name as his "new teacher" and hugged me. He even asked me about my morning. He was so excited!
The first day with him was not as smooth as I hoped for. There were a few bumps. This was the reason why we observed him in the classroom and modifications were made to suit the student's needs. He would always choose to be the first person in the line, but I explained that we have our rules on "taking turns," and he already had his chance. When I checked on him outside the classroom the next day, he sat on his spot and patiently waited for others to come. I realized that firmness and consistency are two powerful tools to achieve successful classroom management.
Another classroom scene that made my day was when we had our group sharing. Knowing that younger students are visual learners, I added fun pictures to make our sharing more interactive and to get their attention. As I flashed some images on the screen, I heard him laugh as if he was being tickled. It went on for a long time, and it certainly gave his classmates a stomachache laughing with him which caused a little bit of chaos in the class. So, I gave him 30 seconds, and he did stop. It was effective, then we began with our sharing. Since that moment, we've been working on calling the name of the next sharer. He was very observant and quick to realize that he needed to do the same to his classmates. To our surprise, he was able to call the next sharer without his classmate's help and use the phrase "Popcorn, student's name." Everyone in the class was shocked and happy, telling me, "Teacher Lyrah, have you heard him saying popcorn? He learns so fast!" Truly, success happens not just because of one person working as "the teacher," but it includes the students and peers who help one another and have a common goal to lift each other up.
Moreover, I have noticed that he is gifted and very clever. I had set aside things each morning and prepared different materials that he would need to stay focused in our class. These things will be given after each class activity. It was essential to remind him that he needed to finish his tasks then he could use what is prepared for him. Well, being firm with expectations and setting classroom boundaries are challenging at times; however, at CCHS we always do it with love and care.
He appeared to be adjusting into our classroom setting over the next few days. He also loves to participate when being asked. Though, he needed some reminders from time to time for him to stay on track. There was one instance in the middle of our discussion he stood up and asked for his dinosaur books. We stopped, and most of his classmates reminded him to ask permission every time he stands or wants to have something. He did go back to his seat and asked permission. But it was not time for him to read a book yet. So, he participated in our reading first and answered all the activities. Then he got the book for him to enjoy. Another strategy that was very effective to him was giving him a time frame before he could get his desired reading materials. These things didn't come easy, it requires hard work, patience, determination, cooperation, and above all, love. We made a lot of classroom modifications to cater for his needs and the rest of the class.
To be successful in the classroom, as teachers, we need to set clear classroom boundaries for our students.
As Colossians 3:23-24 says: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward."