Before some kids can enter the “ready to learn zone” they need to deal with some unpleasant issues. It could be as simple as, “I think Sue looked at me with a mean face,” to the more serious, “My mom is going to jail today.” With help from a caring figure at school, hopefully the student will be able to switch gears and be ready to receive the FUN lessons of the day. Don’t brush these issues aside.
One way to keep the class moving forward while dealing with childhood stress is to include a great read-aloud into your classroom routine. According to research by Dr. David Lewis, reading is the best and fastest stress buster around. How lucky for us as teachers! I know when I am reading a Junie B. Jones or a Skippyjon book to my class, all eyes are on me with that relaxed look of complete engagement. What a beautiful sight to see from my perspective!
Another way to reduce anxiety in the classroom is through human touch. Touch causes the human body to produce a brain chemical called oxytocin. Research is still being conducted on this chemical, but oxytocin has been shown to relieve stress and increase feelings of trust. I know the idea of human touch in the classroom can be a scary thing depending upon your age group and school policies. But this can be as simple as a hand shake, fist bump, high five, patting someone on the back, or having kids hold hands to make a circle. In my classroom hugs happen all the time, but if you have older kids, avoid hugs or teach them to use a side to side “teacher hug” with arms over the shoulders. Oh yeah – we get our own special hug – that’s right.
Your classroom could become a child’s sanctuary from the stress of their world. A place to relax, learn, and have FUN.
Concepts to Be Covered Animals have needs: food, water, shelter, oxygen.
Goals for the Lesson Students will discover that all animals have basic needs such as water, food, oxygen, and shelter.
Students will determine that animal needs are met within the context of their environment.
Kat and Squirrel Story for the Lesson Kat and Squirrel are volunteering at a zoo. It is their responsibility to make sure all of the animals in their care have their needs met. Help Kat and Squirrel makes sure all of the animals are properly cared for.
Care About Students – Create a unique human connection with each student. Look them in the eye when you talk as much as you can. Let them know through your actions and words that each one of them is uniquely important to you. Without a doubt, no teacher is expected to “like” every student he or she teaches in the great span of a teaching career – but that teacher can make sure every student feels “liked”. We all know the unlikable ones are the ones who need our support the most. Rita Pierson says it much better than I can in this passionate talk below.
One way to build positive relationships is to discover the interests of your students. Who loves to ride horses? Who knows sports stats by heart? Who writes computer programs for fun? If you use these passions as a way to tie home life to the school curriculum the interest level soars. And so does the FUN.
After all, if not for listening to my little ones I would have never known that President Theodore Roosevelt had a badger for a pet, football players wear tight pants so the other team can’t grab on to them, or that sometimes I look like I was too tired to brush my hair. Really? Just try to have neat hair after recess duty. 🙂