Archive | September, 2013

My Stubborn Child (aka I Miss Wine)

17 Sep

This evening after work, Child had an appointment for his Early Childhood Screening. For those unfamiliar, in the school district that I live in, it is required that your child be screened before he/she turns four. The purpose of these screenings is to observe your child’s behavior in order to try to flag any potential problems or special needs the child may have prior to starting kindergarten.

Now, I’m not trying to brag or anything, but my child is smart. I’m not claiming he’s the next Einstein or anything, but he’s verbally advanced for his age, and his comprehension abilities are beyond that of what I’ve witnessed in other children his age. Needless to say, I wasn’t worried about his screening. I knew he could point out a triangle and build a tower of blocks and do whatever else they might ask him to do. No problemo.

I did become a little concerned, however, when in the car on the way to the screening, Child boldly declared, “I won’t do anything they ask me to; I will just say,”NO!” See, I told you that Child could do whatever they may ask of him. I never said he would. Child is incredibly stubborn; if it’s not something he wants to do, he’s beyond resistant. Things need to be his idea for him to participate fully. Going to this screening? Not his idea.

Just as I feared, the screening did not go well. That’s an understatement. It was awful. Not only did Child refuse to participate, he hit me, spit me, kicked the wall, called me and the wonderfully patient ladies trying to conduct the screening “stupid” and refused to get off the floor for a considerable length of time. No amount of quiet conversation, promises of a “special treat” for cooperation or threats of timeouts helped anything. I was trying desperately to control my child, while the ladies were looking at me with sympathetic eyes and asking me things like, “Oh, so he’s like this at home, then?” to which my reply was, “No, he’s really not.” This is true, but I could tell they thought I was lying.

Child is stubborn at home, but not violent. He went through a hitting phase, and a “stupid” phase, but he hasn’t hit me like he did tonight in probably over a year, and even his use of “stupid” is few and far between now. With one exception. The only other time I can think of that he’s behaved so horribly was over the summer when we were having a play date at a friend’s house and I told him we had to go home because he wasn’t sharing. The point being, he’s not like that at home. Sure he puts up a fuss here and there, but not a full on tantrum.

Tonight, Child and I both left the screening (which I now have to reschedule) in tears. I don’t recall ever being so frustrated and so humiliated. I have a wonderful, sweet, smart, and funny little boy. Where he was tonight, I have no idea. It makes me question if I’m doing something wrong. I’m certainly no expert on discipline, but I thought I was doing the best I could. I try to employ the same discipline techniques I use as a teacher. Copious amounts of positive reinforcement. Building of intrinsic motivation. Discussion of making good choices, consequences (timeouts, toys taken away, etc. – never spanking) for making bad ones. So far, at home, it’s worked.

Clearly I need to be doing more. These two tantrums I’ve witnessed seem to stem from him being forced to do something he doesn’t want to do. Obviously this is something that’s never going to be pleasing for him, but it is something he needs to learn how to handle. It’s a scenario that’s going to keep coming up more and more frequently the older he gets. I just have no idea how to teach it. Do I purposefully create scenarios at home where this is the case? Tell him he has to play with Toy A and not Toy B until he’s learned to deal with it emotionally?

Any advice anyone has out there for me would be greatly appreciated, because this pregnant lady has never missed wine so much as she does right now. Tonight my alcohol-removed moscato just isn’t cutting it.


Classroom Rewards Advice Wanted

2 Sep

As a third-year teacher, classroom management is something that I am constantly working on improving. Most of the time I think I do a pretty good job, but I’m a long way from perfection. I really love the idea of positive reinforcement as a classroom management tool. Because of this I’ve been searching Pinterest the internet in search of classroom reward systems, and I’m a little overwhelmed by all the options out there.

A lot of the options I’ve stumbled across seem pretty complex. They involve pennies or popsicle sticks or little pom pom balls and then these things are traded in for stickers which are added up to equal different amounts and then those amounts can get you a coupon which you can then use to “purchase” a reward. Ok, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point. These systems involve a lot of storage and an intricate filing system that just isn’t plausible in my current teaching position. I’m a middle school teacher with 90 students to keep track of, not an elementary teacher with a class of about 30. Furthermore, I don’t have my own classroom in which to store these objects or walls hang a sticker/incentive chart on. Throughout the day I travel to four different classrooms, so what I need is simplicity.

I know this much: I love the systems that involve reward coupons like “Listen to your iPod while you work” or “Sit next to a friend for a day.” What I’m struggling with now is how exactly to have my students earn these rewards. It seems clear that I need to hand out some sort of ticket or token which they would then turn in to earn those rewards. But how often do I hand out these tokens? What do they need to do to earn a token? How many tokens do they need before they can earn a reward?

The closest system I’ve found to what I’ve been envisioning is one in which paper tickets are handed out for positive behavior, 100% on tests, etc. Once ten tickets are earned, students can put their names in a drawing for one of the reward coupons. At the end of the month, three names are drawn and those are the students who actually earn the reward.

Are there any teachers out there who have tried a similar system? What has worked in the past for you? I’m particularly interested in advice from middle school teachers. Any tips or tricks would be much appreciated!

Sweet & Salty Chex Mix

1 Sep

Let me preface this post by saying that no one in their right mind would call me a chef. Even to say that I am a “good cook” would be stretching it. What I am good at, though, is following recipes put together by people with much more culinary savvy than myself.

One such recipe that has gotten a lot of acclaim amongst my circles of family and friends is a Sweet & Salty Chex Mix recipe that I was fortunate enough to acquire as a wedding gift from my parents’ neighbors. The Johnson family always made this recipe around the holiday season, and I remember spending time in their kitchen with their granddaughter helping to put it all together. Waiting for the delicious batches to be ready for eating seemed like it took a million years. I know now that it was really only a matter of minutes; I’m happy to say that one of my favorite recipes, this is also one of the easiest to follow.

I’ve had a request recently from a family friend to share this recipe with her, so I figured I might as well share it with you lovely readers as well.

Johnson Family Chex Mix
(aka Sweet & Salty Chex Mix)

2 cups wheat Chex
2 cups corn Chex
2 cups rice Chex
1.5 cups pretzel sticks
1 cup salted peanuts (optional)
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar

Pour all of the dry ingredients into a large roaster pan. Melt the butter and the brown sugar in a sauce pan. Cook until not separated – a few minutes. Pour over cereal mixture and mix thoroughly. Bake at 350 degrees for eight minutes. Stir and bake another six minutes. Spread on a cookie sheet to cool.

If cooking for a gathering of some sort (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) I double this recipe, and it always goes, fast.