Sunday, April 29, 2012

Teachers of the Heart

As the end of school gets closer and closer, EVERYONE gets excited and a little less patient. For many kiddos, summer is fun with family and friends and NO SCHOOL. However, some kiddos are going to miss the structure school gives them because their little lives are so chaotic. Many kiddos get their only meals at school and get their only hugs and love from us. We often have no idea what our little ones go home to face each day...and this is not just our children of poverty. Every kiddo deserves our best until they get in their car or on the bus the very last day of school.

I need to remind myself that even though they have heard us saying the same thing for over 150+ days, they will need to be hearing it again and again and again....even though I am about to go batty, up the wall, cray cray saying it! =) I need to remember to have a Heart of Patience.

One of the most powerful chapters in Conscious Discipline is the chapter on Positive Intent. This chapter helps you realize that children are either extending love or calling for love (help). It is easy to let a behavior "label" a child. I am guilty of that at times and have referred to kiddos as stinkers or toots (never to their face). Just because I might be calling them that when I vent to a teacher friend I am hopefully not let my frustrations with that kiddo out on them...although, there are times my heart of patience is not there.

 I think when I am frustrated it is because I care about that kiddo and don't know how to help them or I don't know how to help them realize how hurtful their behavior is. But the BIG brain pop for me was that is the same thing with the kiddos....they don't know what to do(or they do but aren't doing it) and their behavior is crying out for our love and help.

I think of the poem I shared called  "Eyes of the Heart". Until I start looking at others with my heart, I won't be able to help them. The big idea of the chapter on Positive Intent is children cannot behave differently until they are seen differently. What we offer to others we strengthen within ourselves. page 159

Remember, what we focus on we get more of.

As I get ready to start this week, I know my kiddos at times will be cray cray. I can only change myself. I will pray for a heart of patience that looks at others with eyes of the heart.

Here are 2 songs I want to share with you.

*Freebie* time!!! I am sorry for not sharing any *freebies* lately because I love to do so. I have been a wee bit obsessed with butterflies this past week because of some ADORABLE butterfly bowls I found. I will be sharing the picture of them this week and there might be a giveaway too!

I hope you can use these math *freebies*! =)

graphics by Scrappin Doodles
frame by The 3am Teacher

As you get ready to start the week, know you are a blessing to your kiddos. Thank you for also being a blessing to me. I pray God helps us be Teachers of the Heart.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


As I drove home from school today, I heard the song Changed by Rascal Flatts. I love this song and it spoke to my heart the very first time I heard it. It reminds my of the precious gift I received when Jesus not only suffered and died for me but rose again so I could have ever lasting life. Although I am changed, I still struggle with being the person God wants me to be. Please stop for a minute and really think about these words as you listen to the song.

This song also helps to remind me that I can only change me. There are many, many times I want to change a child and their behavior. But the truth is that child will only change if they make that choice. Yes, I can manipulate, scare, threaten, bribe, and do many things that might influence that child to change but it won't be a change that lasts forever or really even become a consistent change.

I think we get caught up at times trying to change others...even when we have the best of intentions. We do want others at times to change hurtful behavior. I don't like it when a child is saying hurtful things or even talking in a hurtful tone of voice. I am not going to change that child but I can teach them kinder words and we can practice using a kinder, softer tone of voice. I know that child is probably not going to listen to me if I start yelling at them and talking in a mean tone of voice myself. When we make a change in ourselves, they will often follow our example.

I would say that I am a soft spoken person and try to use a firm and loving tone of voice....and there are moments and days that Becky Bailey leaves the building and Conscious Discipline goes out the window. But my kiddos change the way they talk to each other because I have worked on changing myself first. I try to model it and give them the tools they need to be successful....and there are times they sound like 2 cats fighting when they go to gym and lose all knowledge of what they do when they are in our classroom!!!!! =)

As we count down the days, remember YOU are the only one you can change to make a difference. =)

I would love a heart note letting me know what you are going to change tomorrow. =)

BTW...if you are reading this and you are the person who un-followed me, I am sorry if I offended you or hurt your feelings...I just try and share my heart.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Way or the Highway: choices with Conscious Discipline


When I go there, I almost always see something that makes the teacher in me start having heart palpitations.

My right eye starts twitching at the interactions I observe.

I start thinking of which one of my "Come to Jesus" talks I need to give the snot monster sweet darling and the person I assume is the adult.

I did NOT grow up in an environment where I was given choices to help foster my independence and autonomy. It was You do it or You get it!

These are actually offering false choices.
You can eat what is on your plate or starve.
You can go to sleep now or never have another slumber party again.
You can do the activity the way I told you to or you are never doing a fun activity again.
If you act this way when we go to the store than you are never getting another toy. EVER!!!!

According to CD, you are trying to manipulate the child. You are also setting them up to believe that when they think, feel, or choose differently than you, they are bad, wrong or disrespectful.

Here is my opinion on part of that....we do need to let a child know that there are choices that are wrong because they can be hurtful, unsafe, or disrespectful. I think that making choices is supported by bringing in some of the language of CD and the noticing.

This chapter in Conscious Discipline is so powerful and yet, there is still a part of me that struggles with the fact that life is not always going to be about choices....and especially 2 positive ones. Sometimes, you just have to do things you don't want to do.....go to the female doctor, go to boring meetings  faculty meetings  engaging professional development opportunities after school, do lesson plans, and even stop blog stalking and step away from the computer to do something like clean the house and do laundry.

Here is the BIG IDEA: 2 Positive Choices

Yeppers, the choices need to be positive...both of them! =)

The book shows a hilarious picture of a teacher giving a child (with arms crossed and a defiant look on her face) the choice to get in line or go to the guillotine.....too funny! But in the eyes of the child so true!!!!

Go out to lunch with your friends for a hour or cram a yucky cafeteria meal down your throat in 20 minutes....hard decision, right??!!????

The 2 positive choices are wonderful because young children are trying to assert their autonomy and often feel as if they have to have the LAST word.

But I......

But Ms. Price.....

But they were.....

I want to tell them the words Ms. Price and but should never be in the same sentence but that is a bit much for the brain of a Firstie.

Here is what giving 2 positive choices offers the child: page 140

*Attend to the thing that you think is important
*Obey what you are asking
*Learn decision making
*Feel empowered therefore reducing power struggles
*Redirect their behavior and learn impulse control
*Establish and maintain self-control

Here are 5 steps to follow (pages 141-142)

1. Take a deep breath and think about what you want the child to do. Remember, How can I help the child most likely choose to __________.

2. Tell the child in an upbeat/positive voice "You have a choice."
If you need to practice that voice first try it out on your hubby, friend or pet. Yes, I have practiced on my kitty and my bunny. =)

3. State the 2 choices "You may __________ or you may __________."

4. Ask the child for a commitment. You might say, "What is your choice?" You might have to repeat the choices several times.

5. Notice the child's choice. You can say, "You chose __________!" in a very encouraging voice with loving intent. You can also celebrate the child with a Way to Go or a You did it!

I am sure right now you have a sweet little friend in mind....I have my little toot darling picked out. =)

You know the one that brings up the What if's or reminds you of those kiddos that you read about in college that might be a wee bit defiant....a little stubborn donkey.

Here is what you have to understand first. A young child begins to develop a sense of self, figuring out where they begin and where mom and dad stop. The terrible twos are about a child testing boundaries. They are not trying to make you angry.

Remember, you want to focus on what you want the child to do. If you start trying to focus on what you want to stop....the crying, stomping, hitting, just stepped into a power struggle. I have done this...I have even been told NOT to get in a power struggle with a child because the child will always win.

I can be a bit of a stubborn donkey myself and I love like to win.....enough said!!!

This is where the parroting technique comes in to help the donkey.

You keep repeating the 2 positive choices over and over and over and over.

Teacher: Carla, it is time to clean up your center. You have a choice. You may clean up the cards first or the letters. What is your choice?

Carla: Noooooooooooo!!!!

Teacher: Carla, it is time to clean up your center. You have a choice. You may clean up the cards first or the letters. What is your choice?

Carla: You can't make me!!!! I hate you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


At this point Carla is going to do one of 3 things:

1. Start to clean up but with a bad attitude.

2. Continue to verbally assault you or even try to hit you.

3. Throw a full blown hissy fit or even try and run away.

You can tell Carla that she is right. You can't make her.

Real Life Example: my friend's little boy would not eat his carrots. The carrots were forced into his mouth but you cannot make someone swallow. The carrots were in his mouth for over 48 hours. He finally spit them out when they were discovered still in his mouth by the dentist at an appointment!!!!!

After telling Carla that, turn and walk away. When she calms down, have her clean it up and celebrate the choice with her.

Here is where my opinion comes in. I then talk to the child about obeying quickly and about how we sometimes have to do things we might not want to do and we might just need to say yes ma'am and do it. I usually share with them an example of when I  have to do something I don't want to do. I talk about if I threw a hissy fit when my principal asked me to do something I wouldn't have a job and I couldn't buy food or other fun things.. I also tell them that I care about them and will never ask them to do something that is hurtful to them or that is not going to help them be a kind and helpful person...a bucket filler.

There are times I do bring in consequences but I have no step by step process I follow about how many times I will ask a child before a consequence is given.

BTW- Consequences come in the very LAST chapter of the book and there is a very good reason for that.

There are also going to be children who resist choices because of parenting that fails to meet the child's needs, permissive parenting and family troubles. These are often going to be your kiddos who want to get in a power struggle with you because they have a life that is so out of control. These are our little ones who are trying to survive. Take time to build trust with these kiddos and make connections.

My opinion:  I have kiddos like this. These are the kiddos that when we do Our School Family circle time I try and buddy up with. I try and give these kiddos more hugs or rub their backs and really, really try and notice every positive thing they do and celebrate all of the baby steps they make. The sweet part about building your School Family is that the other kiddos notice it too. They do an awesome job celebrating each other. And for me and my type A personality, I sometimes just have to let a few things slide. I often ask myself this: Are the child and others safe? Can learning still happen for this child and others around them?

There is a great cartoon in the book about a teacher and a child pulling on a rope and having a power struggle. The next picture is a child trying to hand the rope to the adult who has his arms crossed across his chest refusing to take it. Power struggles require 2 willing participants.

Here is what happened today:

A little one came in today in a bad mood. I am trying to talk to him and find out what is wrong. I am saying I notice your arms are like this (and I model it). Your face is like this (and I model it). Your face is telling me your upset or frustrated. What happened?

I continued to ask during breakfast ...remember, to not be jealous that I have the joy of breakfast in my classroom.....we came to the rug and this little one didn't. He walked around the room and kicked a chair every now and then. Here are the choices...the 2 positive choices:

H(me): It is time for Word Study. You have a choice. You can come sit by me and I'll help you calm down and start working or you can choose a friend to go sit by and they can help you calm down and get started. What is your choice?.

L(little one): no response

I continued to repeat myself several times. I then told little one that he knew what the choices were and that we would be happy to help him when he was ready to make a choice.

He grumped for about 5 minutes and then came to sit over by me on the rug. Before, I could even celebrate him and his choice, one of my kiddos was adding him a helpful heart for changing his choices and for coming to work and the Cheerleader was celebrating him for the same thing....all before I could even say anything.

And he did have a reason (a sad one) for having a rough start to the day.

I know you probably have questions and I will try my best to help answer them. Remember, I am no expert and also bring in things I believe about being encouraging and respectful.

The next time I post I will have charts you can hang in your room to help you remember what to say. This post has taken me forever to write but I hope you find it helpful. It really is amazing. Between noticing and 2 positive choices, amazing things will happen in your School Family.

I would love a heart note letting me know what you think.

This is post 99 for me! WOWzers!!!!! That blows my mind out of the water! =)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Cray Cray Catastrophe

The rumbling started on Friday.

By Monday, I could hear the thunder.

Yesterday, the floodgates opened and the storm broke loose....cray cray classroom catastrophe!!!!!!!

I went home yesterday thinking of the 3 B's.....

A beverage

Italian margarita

the beach

my bed (and boys!)

I am not sure what was going on with my kiddos but I had a headache and even had the thought for the moment that we needed to go out on the playground for a LLOOOOONNNNGGGGG time so I could have some kiddos owe me a LLLLOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGGG time!!! I knew then that I was putting them in charge of my emotions and I needed to remember that the only one I could change was myself.

Here is what I think caused some of the cray cray uproar:

*The kiddos who had the jobs of the Cheerleader and the Kindness Recorder are kiddos who need more help from me in helping them notice others to celebrate and add flowers for. Today I really tried to help the Cheerleader find friends he could celebrate. This helped others but especially him because he has had PMS lately.

*We had not done our Conscious Discipline School Family Circle time. Even though this only takes about 6 minutes, the kiddos need this time to make connections through the songs we sing but REALLY need for us to sing Our School Family Commitment Song.

*I was not celebrating all the helpful and kind things I was noticing.
I noticed but needed to encourage some of my blabbermouths verbal kiddos more. Tomorrow it is time for me to break out my bubbles!

Go visit my post Way to Go!

Blowing bubbles on a child ROCKS their world!!!! =)

We might also be having marshmallow toes and marshmallow mouths again.

Click here to go grab it from Kelli's shop.

I'll be back to share about Conscious Discipline and choices.

I also have a BIG *freebie* I am working on! =)

Here is a poem to help remind you what we are teaching our kiddos NOW will make a difference One Day!

Go grab you some bubbles and celebrate the kiddos you notice! =)

Marshmallow toes and a marshmallow mouths are pretty awesome too!

I would love a heart note or a question about Conscious Discipline I can try and answer for you.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Because I Said So!

Becky Bailey is the author of Conscious Discipline and she is amazing! She is also hysterical! One day I would love to go to a training led by her....especially, if it involves going to the beach with an adult beverage her Florida training center.

But there are some days, Becky Bailey has left my classroom...and heck, she went running out of the building! Yes, I might spit out a sarcastic remark, raise my voice, and sometimes give a silent cheer when someone cries realizes they need to start making better choices.

I am not perfect and I try very hard to remember to apologize to the kiddo that got a little taste of what they had coming for them the heart of patience that had been drained, irked, tested, and bucket dipped dry.

This is a part of Conscious Discipline that I struggle with. Have you ever watched videos for professional development that show this la la land classroom that has you going yeah right, if they only knew what some of my kiddos are like??!???!!! At times, I feel like the kiddos just need to obey me because I am the adult and that is have to do things whether you like it or not or you have to be ready to face the consequences that may result if you do not obey. I could get them to obey with threats, loss of privileges, or other forms of control but in the end we want the children to trust us and submit their will to us because we care about them and hold their best interests in mind.

Here is the statement that sums up chapter 4: The only person you can make change is yourself. When you find yourself getting upset by what a child is doing or in any situation, you are giving your power away and setting yourself up to blame someone or something else. Once again Conscious Discipline takes me to the place where I listen to what I am saying....and realize how changing my words can make a significant difference.

Have you ever said statements like this?

When you are quiet, I will begin.
Don't make me have to ____________
You are ruining the story for everyone
You are driving me nuts.
Look what you made me do.
Look how you made her feel.
I should do these grades tonight. I have to have them in by Monday. I have not mastered this one! =)

These statements are blaming someone else for how you are feeling....they are statements of entitlement and we need to move to empowerment.

The biggie for me was Look how you made her feel. According to CD, we need to change that to Look at her face. Her face is saying I don't like it when you push me.

Honestly, I am still trying to wrap my brain around this and the book gives some great examples of how to change these statements.

Here is one more example that I am sure many of you have been saying too.

Change When you are quiet, I will begin to I am going to begin when you are quiet. That shifts the power from the child being in charge of you and when you will begin to you are in charge of choosing when to begin.

The next part of this chapter is choices and how to offer 2 positive choices. This is going to have to be part 1 because this is a HUGE part of CD and can make a world of difference....and my Type A, control freak mind set still battles with this because the reality of life does not always offer you 2 positive choices.

How do I help the child most likely choose to ____________________________ instead of How can I get the child to ____________________________.

If you are thinking How can I get them to be quiet it is the same thing to your brain as How can I make them be quiet. If your brain is hearing make, it is going to come up with every manipulative, feared, forced, coercive strategy you have ever been taught. If you are thinking of how you can help the child make a positive choice, you answer will be more creative and might involve changing the structures of your classroom and reflecting on yourself and the needs of the children.

I am going to stop here because that is a lot to soak in and you might be getting a headache!

I am excited to share the next part about 2 positive choices because it helps me to revisit the ways I can help myself be a better teacher and in the end hopefully help my kiddos learn some powerful stuff! =)

I hope you come back to read more about choices.

I had a sweet follower ask if I had ever been to any training on CD. I have been to several workshops on CD  with presenters who have been trained by Becky Bailey. These were both through Early Childhood departments in nearby colleges. I am still no expert and don't have all of the answers. I still struggle with doing the things I share. I am more conscious of what I say and do now. But there are still days that Becky Bailey has left the building....and I wish she took me with her to go get an adult beverage or back to Florida and beach! =)

Moving on......

In word study this week, one of our centers is sorting words with a venn diagram. My kiddos are crazy about this!

Here they are sorting words with a ck ending, a blend, or both.

I just added it to my TpT store today. I would love for you to check it out here. =)

There are 4 activities:
*sorting compound words, words with blends and words with both.
*ck endings, blends, and words with both
*magic e words, blends, and words with both
*bossy r words, digraphs, and words with both

It is on sale right now for only $4....that is a dollar a game! =)

You can use it without the sorting loops and still have your kiddos record the words in the venn diagram.

Moving on......

I think I have shared how much I love Laura Story's song "Blessings". In case you are not familiar with it, here are the lyrics that always touch my heart:

'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops,
What if Your healing comes through tears,
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if the trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise.

One of my other favorite songs talks about how sometimes God calms the storm and other times He calms His child. When ever I hear it I think of rainbows. I love rainbows because they are a promise from God...I like to think of them as God's smile from Heaven. Each one of you that stops and takes a few minutes to leave me a heart note are blessing me in so many ways. I think of each one of you as I share this poem.

This poem is also a reminder to myself about being a rainbow's promise for my kiddos.

Blessings to each one of you!

From My Heart to Yours,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Look at ME! Look at ME!

After reading this post you might...

un-follow me....

Or roll your eyes....

Or think I am cray cray!

When I first heard that I shouldn't say this, I thought it was silly. I had been taught to say this in college.

When I asked several months ago, most of you said YOU say it too!

And it worked when I said said it worked too!

What is it you might be asking yourself????

I like the way......

Yeppers...according to Conscious Discipline we shouldn't be saying this.

Here is where I almost stopped listening but I didn't. When I really started to think about the reason why when they explained it to us, it made also gave me a headache.

We have all had kiddos run up to us or holler out to us "Look at me! Look at me!". Children want and need to be seen. Our attention is greatly encouraging.

The Conscious Discipline book is broken down into teaching ourselves and children different skills. What I am sharing with you comes from the chapter on Encouragement. There is so much in this chapter that I would love to share but it can be overwhelming and very thought provoking....hence my above headache.

Our praise can be very judgmental (page 81). Here's how:

*Too much, all-encompassing praise can make a child feel pressured to live up to unrealistic expectations. If we are saying something about them always doing something right or well, they might feel pressured to live up to that expectation or they might rebel.

*Judgement praise can teach a child to think that "good" equals pleasing others and "bad" equals displeasing others. This can cause anxiety in the child and leave them asking you "Is this good?" "Did I do this right?". This trains children to focus on what others think instead of listening to their own inner speech.

*If you use praise that focuses on how you feel about a child's behavior, you are teaching them to seek your approval. If you are using praise to influence the behavior of another child by saying "I like the way _________ is ____________" than you are manipulating a child and sending the message that you are worthy when you are pleasing to others.

*If you praise children for only successful, completed tasks, you teach them effort does not matter-only accomplishments matter. "If you praise only finished jobs that are done well, you teach a child to devalue effort." page 82

Conscious Discipline breaks what we say into 2 actions:
*Praise (judging)
*Noticing (describing)

"When you judge children, you tell them who you think they should be. Judgment shows conditional love- love that makes demands. Encouragement is about accepting children for who they are. Acceptance notices and describes behavior or actions that exist. Acceptance underlies unconditional love- love which makes no demands." We want to move away from judging to noticing. page 82

Yes, I accept my kiddos for who they are and because I love them I am going to help them be the best they can be.

What we focus on we get more of. What you focus on will also strengthen that quality in yourself and others. If you notice a child's strength, you teach them about their abilities. If you encourage their contributions, you teach them about sharing their gift with others. "All you really need to do is describe the efforts or accomplishments you see from the child. In effect, you become the child's mirror." page 79

Here are some ways to change some judging praises into noticing and describing encouragement:

I like the way I see Carla cleaning up her center. judging
I noticed Carla cleaning up her center and being helpful by putting everything away so nothing would get lost. noticing

Sarah is doing a nice job in line. judging
I notice Sarah is standing still in line. That is being helpful by keeping her friends safe. noticing

Good job doing your math paper Jennifer. judging
You did it! You went over and focused and you got your work completed. noticing

Ways to help build noticing into your vocabulary:

1. Start with the child's name or the pronoun "you".
Stacy, you picked up Suzanne's pencil.
You did it, you tied your shoes!

2. Next describe exactly what you see.
Pretend that you have a camera. Before you speak ask yourself if a camera can record what you are about to say? If you are about to tell Ann thank you for being helpful remember that a camera cannot record that. Instead tell Ann you noticed her give Kellye back her pencil and that was helpful.

3. End your description with a tag. There are 3 types of tags:

*Tags that judge, use sparingly:
~Good job!
~That looks great!
~You always do such a great job!

*Tags that describe attributes-use regularly:
~That took determination.
~You sure are organized!
~That was brave!

*Tags that describe values, use lavishly:
~That was helpful.
~That was thoughtful.
~That was kind, caring, loving.

Are you still here??????????? Did I lose you??????? Are you rolling your eyes at me?????????????

I hope you are sticking with me because you need to hear this part! =)

I had a hard time changing my language. I had been saying I like the way.... for at least 6 years.

When I started my noticing, the difference it made in my classroom was HUGE!!! My kiddos became so much more aware what contributions and efforts others were making. The values and language they use with each other is amazing. There are times I want to invite a couple of adults to come get some lessons from my kiddos.

My kiddos are constantly starting their sentences with "I noticed that___________was_______________. That was helpful, kind, caring of him.

I remember at times starting to feel flustered when my kiddos were not doing something I thought they should be. That was usually when I threw out one of the I like the way.....sentences. I realize now that I needed to focus on what I wanted by being a mirror to that action so the children could make the connection. At the beginning of the year, we sang a song like this modified to whatever I needed to mirror back to the kiddos:

I see Heather, I see Heather,
Her hands are like this. (modeling the action)
Her feet are like this. (modeling the action)
She's being very helpful She's being very helpful.
Way to go! Way to go!

All of this noticing then ties in so well with the School Family Jobs of  The Kindness Recorder, The Cheerleader, and The Encourager. Plus, all of the noticing that my kiddos do of the contributions of others ties in with our bucket filling because they must tell the friend "I am going to add you a helpful heart for____________." The friend who is having the heart added for them has to answer them "Thank you for noticing that."

Here is what you can try this week (or next if you are lucky to be on Spring Break!)":

Instead of saying I like the way.... say

*I notice that _____________ is ________________. Way to go for being helpful.


*Way to go ________________! You _____________________! That was being so kind.

If you need to write one of the sentence stems on a sentence strip to post in your room go for it! That is what I did in the beginning. =)

Think it over. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around this at first....especially since what I had been doing was working!

I see now though that all of the qualities, efforts and values I notice are the ones the kiddos now are mirroring.

I would love for you to share your thoughts with me on this....and please be honest! =)

Now, on to other news!

If you haven't heard the Craftivity Queen my sweet friend Mrs. Cupcake (Teri) is having an AMAZING giveaway! She asked little ol' me to be part of it! WOW! I am humbled!

Hop on over to her blog to check it out! She is going to have 10 WINNERS!!!!!!!!

Here is a *freebie* I shared before but that was back in November when I only had about 100 followers!

Click on the picture to go grab it!

I have been tagged already! I promise to answer those questions soon! I can totally relate to my sweet and funny friend Holly about the amount of time it takes for me to squeeze out a post. OMGosh! I am a slowpoke!

I hope you had a blessed Easter. I worship a risen Savior and am blessed indeed. =)