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 http://www.thelittleschool.net/teachers.htm#MaryBeth_Gronenthal
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!