Saturday, July 16, 2011

We Heart Our Job Chart (and Ms. MaryBeth!)

Conscious Discipline was developed by Dr. Becky Bailey and is a comprehensive classroom management system and social-emotional curriculum. At The Little School we are integrating Conscious Discipline into our classrooms and are learning about the seven skills of Discipline: Composure, Encouragement, Assertiveness, Choices, Empathy, Positive Intent, and Consequences.

So far our staff has studied Composure (April blog), Encouragement and Assertiveness. At our next staff meeting we will begin working on Choices.

One important concept in Conscious Discipline that is part of Encouragement is that of the School Family.

One of the structures used to create a positive school family at The Little School is the job chart. We will look at some of the benefits of the job chart, the ways that the job chart is used in our classrooms, suggestions for other jobs, and how you can use a job chart in your own home.

There are a number of benefits of a job chart. First, and foremost, having a meaningful job creates a sense of being a contributing member of the school family. The job chart also provides structure for each child’s day. Children experience mastery as they learn different jobs. The job chart also provides a way for each child to be “special” and gain recognition for “doing”. It develops a sense of responsibility, as well as self-esteem.

Some jobs are tasks that need to be accomplished in the classroom such as taking dishes to the kitchen, recycling, setting the table, or watering the plants.

Other jobs are often a part of circle time routines, such as weather reporter or friend counter. In Ms. Rose’s room the friend counter is aided by a “duck wand”. In our half-day classroom we take turns rolling a song cube.

Conscious Discipline suggests additional jobs for older children such as “"Well Wisher." When a student is absent, the "Well Wisher" writes the absent student's name in a Well Wishes heart and sends well wishes to that student. The "Well Wisher" might also draw a picture for the absent child and leave the drawing in their cubby. Another job would be the classroom greeter. This person would greet visitors with a smile and a warm welcome.

At The Little School, some jobs are clear favorites. In talking to Little Schoolers, the job of line leader is a popular one. Xavier says: “My favorite job is line leader, because you are the first one to go into the room.” Emmett agrees, adding: “That's my favorite job, too, because you get to lead the line.”

Gus imagines that being the “substitute” would be a good job. “ I never been it before, but I think it's a pretty good job. I also like being line leader, but I don’t have a reason for that.”

Xavier agrees that being the substitute is a pretty good job..."Because you get to do everyone's job that's not here."

Layla and Johnny like being the “weather reporter”. Layla says, “You get to say if it is cold, sunny, or hot” and Johnny adds “or if there is a chance of sweat”.

Fleury likes being the librarian, saying, "I like being librarian, because I like to put the books away and work with my friends.”

Cadence likes to be the book collector and the plant sprayer.

Lucas likes to be door holder, because “I can hold the door for friends!” The door holder also gets high fives as friends pass by.

Gaby likes to be the veterinarian, because “I get to feed the pets”. (In this case Chewbaca Pretzel the guinea pig and Sonic the hermit crab).

Marcus: “I like being teacher’s assistant, because I get to change the numbers, the day of the week.”

In MaryBeth's classroom a favorite job is shoe helper. The shoe helpers get everyone's shoes and gently brings them to their friends when it is time to go outside. They also have a "Support Squad"! When they take a walk, for instance, and a friend is getting tired, they will stop and hit a stick on the ground and cheer their friend on, saying "Go Davey!”, “Go Davey!". They provide encouragement and support, much like the job of the “Comfort Buddies” who step in when a child needs/wants comforting.

Just as job charts can strengthen the School Family, a job chart can also strengthen your home family. How many jobs a child has will be determined by many factors including age, ability and maturity. Even toddlers can help with tasks around the house. Choose simple jobs for your child such as cleaning up a specific item instead of a generalized “clean up your room”. Taking suggestions from Conscious Discipline you may want to include jobs that contribute to the joy and well being of the family such as “well-wisher” or “greeter”. One job on everyone’s chart can be saying something good about their day at the dinner table! )

The expectation that a child needs to perform certain tasks at designated times teaches responsibility and accountability. These traits are important throughout life. Being expected to perform certain tasks and taking responsibility for the safety and functioning of the classroom provides a sense of unity; the same thing happens at home. Working together to make home function pleasantly creates unity and cooperation. Sometimes someone might not want to do their job and may only want to do favorite jobs. Part of being a community member is participating even if it is not a favorite job, so that everyone can have a turn doing their favorites. Most of the children at The Little School enjoy a number of the jobs and appreciate the job chart.


***shines*** on MaryBeth.

MaryBeth has been with TLS since we opened the new campus in January 2010 and she currently teaches with Laura and Tina in a classroom full of wonderful and amusing children that range in age from 27-33 months.

View her bio

MaryBeth plans on participating in Project Learning Tree's Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood at the Jordan Lake Educational State Forest in November. I hope to join her along with other TLS staff.

Q&A with MaryBeth:

What was the most interesting trip you have taken?

New Orleans was the most interesting place I've ever been. I never realized how much history and how many amazing things occured there. I would love to go back soon and see the rest of the city. There is so much to see. I'd also love to go to Ireland in the near future.

What is your favorite movie?

I'm an 80's movie fanatic. I love any cheesy 80's movie. One of my favorites is "National Lampoons Vacation."

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine from Seinfeld)

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

To hear people's thoughts.

What is something about you that most people may not know?

I'm one of eight children. I was an aunt at 8 years old and have 15 nieces/nephews, 4 great nephews and one great niece:)

If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

Working with special needs children.

If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don't take life too seriously, live it day by day.

What is your happiest childhood memory/what makes it so special?

I used to love going to a cabin in the Catskill Mountains in upstate NY. We all packed into two cars and drove up there together. I loved it because they had no electricity there. We had so much fun fishing, playing board games,telling stories and other things we took for granted while at home. I was able to spend more quality time with my family, especially my older siblings. They also had fresh basil growing all around the cabin and that's the first thing you smelled when you opened the car door. To this day every time I smell basil it reminds me of that cabin.

What did you want to be when you were 12 years old?

A vet, a teacher, and a Mom.

What would you listen to if you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life?

I'm a Long Island girl so It would have to be a Billy Joel song. Probably "New York state of mind" or "My Life."

What do you value most or hold most dear at TLS?

I love being able to get to know all the families at TLS. I also love the community feeling of the school, something I've never experienced at other schools.

If you were a dog, what breed would you be and why?

I'd be a mutt because they have the best qualities of most pure breeds. They have so much personality, they're loyal, faithful and they appreciate all the love that they receive :0)

(See picture of MaryBeth’s dog, Miles)

Thank you to MaryBeth for sharing and for her dedication to The Little School!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Summer Reading TLS: A Book List for You and Yours, & Staff Spotlight on Super Jessica!

“Rock, stone, pebble, sand
Body, shoulder, arm, hand
A moat to dig
A shell to keep
All the world is wide and deep
Hive, bee, wings, hum
Husk, cob, corn, yum!
Tomato blossom, fruit so red
All the world’s a garden bed...”

from: All the World
Liz Garton Scanlon
Ages 3-7

Itsy Mitsy Runs Away
Elanna Allen
Ages 3-7

Should I Share My Ice Cream? (Elephant and Piggie)
Mo Willems (author of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, etc)
In Should I Share My Ice Cream? Gerald has a big decision to make. But will he make it in time?

Bubble Trouble
Mabel blows a bubble that engulfs her brother and then the trouble begins!

Art & Max
David Wiesner, Caldecott-winning author who also wrote Tuesday, Flotsam, and The Three Pigs
Max and Arthur are friends who share an interest in painting. Arthur is an accomplished painter; Max is a beginner. Max’s first attempt at using a paintbrush sends the two friends on a whirlwind trip through various artistic media

Press Here
Henre Tullet
Very interactive!

A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Philip C. Stead
3 and up
A friendly zookeeper who always made time for his good friends: the elephant, the tortoise, the penguin, the rhinoceros, and the owl.

Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat
Philip C. Stead
3 and up
When Jonathan's parents decide that he has gotten too old to have a stuffed animal, they trade his favorite bear, Frederick, for a toaster, so he sets off aboard a boat, looking for Frederick. Along the way he assembles a ragtag crew, including a mountain goat, a lonely circus elephant, and even a friendly whale.

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
A West-African folktale

Beautiful OOPS celebrates mistakes!
Barney Saltzberg (author of Good Egg)
All ages

Patrick McDonnell (the creator of the beloved internationally syndicated comic strip MUTTS)
All ages
A book about Jane Goodall. = global program that Jane Goodall founded and that “engages and inspires youth through community service and service learning”

For the very young:

Janet and Allan Ahlberg
A classic book for toddlers

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury
Oxenbury’s signature multi-cultural babies grace the pages of this book.

For the forever young :)

Children: The Challenge
Rudolf Dreikurs, M.D.
“The classic work on improving parent-child relations-intelligent, humane, and eminently practical.”

Raising Happiness:10 Simple Steps For More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents
Christine Carter
A perfect book for parents of TLS – “nothing without joy”
Ideas about gratitude that make me feel grateful.

Last Child in the Woods
Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle
National best seller, Last Child in the Woods, is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.

I Love Dirt : 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature
Jennifer Ward (Foreward by Richard Louv)
Dirt, leaves, worms, bugs, stars, raindrops and watching trees grow...all of that fills I Love Dirt to capacity with 52 activities for parents and kids to do together.

A new feature of the blog will be our "Staff Spotlight":


**shines** on Jessica Larson, better known as SuperJessica at TLS. She is super for many reasons: Mom of Vera and Gus being one of them and posting the blog another! She currently teaches with Paige and Michelle in the “Mighty Me’s” classroom.

Jessica has her BFA degree from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, with a major in photography. Jessica says, “I fell in love with art as a kid, specifically photography. There is true magic to be found developing a print in a darkroom, watching the image slowly rises to the surface.

In 2000, I got the idea to make t-shirts with myself on them and have my friends wear them. The shirts took off and I named my company Super Jessica. I wanted to be like Hello Kitty or Andy Warhol (same thing, right?). Once I had my son, I got very BUSY and had to put SJ on the back burner. I have promised myself that I will return to it... in 18 years or so!

Q & A with SJ:

Jessica, what book will you be reading over the break?
We are currently reading The Hobbit with our son. We have just escaped the elf king and are heading towards Smog. If I can find some spare moments I'll be reading "Just Kids" by Patti Smith. It's a beautifully written story about Smith and artist Mapplethorpe's rise to fame.

What was the last movie you went to see?
Man of La Mancha with Peter O'Toole and Sophia Loren. I’ve been singing it to the kids all week.

What book has had the biggest impact on you?
I read Catcher in the Rye when I was 14, and it was the first book that truly spoke to me. He perfectly expressed so much of what a teenager feels. The book still gives me chills.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you? Amy Sedaris, if only so that we could hang out.

If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be? Don't take yourself so seriously (and let your Momma sleep in on the weekends).

Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
I don't understand the question! One of my favorite mantra's is "Would you rather be right or happy?” My answer is always BOTH, but I'll take happy.

What is your happiest childhood memory and what makes it so special?
Walking through the woods early in the morning. There is some serious serenity listening to the birds in dappled light.

What did you want to be when you were 12 years old? I grew up in the DC suburbs during the 1980's. I clearly remember wanting to be either a painter, a political scientist or a corporate art buyer, a job that only existed in the 80's! I think that was Whitley's major in "A Different World".

What do you value most or hold most dear (other than Gus and Vera :) at TLS?
I truly work with amazing folks. Everyone here is completely devoted to making the lives of not just the kids, but also their co-workers awesome.

Thank you to Jessica for sharing and for all of her awesome support!