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Discovering students' biggest secrets...

Discussion in 'The Teachers Lounge' started by Ajarn P. Paul, 9 Feb 2017.

  1. Ajarn P. Paul

    Ajarn P. Paul Thread Starter มันเป็นวันที่น่าเศร้าในวันนี้ในประเทศไทย ...

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    When Elle Deal decided to try a new exercise with her fifth grade students, the Friday activity turned into something incredibly heartbreaking.

    The elementary school teacher asked her kids to write a short blurb, titled, "I wish my teacher would know . . . " and their answers left a major impact on her.

    Kid 1: I wish my teacher would know, my dad is in jail and I haven't seen him in years.

    Kid 2: I wish my teacher would know, I don't always eat dinner because my mom works and I don't know how to work the stove.

    Kid 3: I wish my teacher would know, my sister sleeps in the same bed as me and sometimes she wets the bed and that's why I smell funny.

    Kid 4: I wish my teacher would know that I don't always have sneakers for gym class because my brothers and I share one pair.

    Kid 5: I wish my teacher would know I like coming to school because it's quiet here, not like my house with all the yelling."

    This simple activity reinforced Elle's desire to spend her life hopefully making a difference for others.

    "We spend so much time talking and judging what we think we know . . . we need to ask more questions and spend more time listening," she wrote.

    "We also need to shift our mindset and see things from other people's perspective, give more than we get, and live to serve."
     
  2. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA την σκαφην σκαφην λεγοντας

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    And I learned the hard way about nominating individual students to talk about their parents, families, etc. It went something like this:

    Me: Is your dad tall?
    -no answer
    Me: Is your dad tall? (with hand gesture)
    -no answer
    Me: Is your dad tall?
    -whispering with classmate... (I am getting angry)
    Classmate: his dad is dead.

    Learning to be a teacher, the hard way.
     
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  3. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

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    inspiring post, thank you.

    Little did bahn_farang know what would happen when he initiated the "I wish students would know....." project. Teacher BF sat down a group of teachers......

    Teacher Jane " I wish the students would know that playing with telephones bugs the bejeebies out of me, put the phone down you little brat"

    Teacher Steve " I wish the students would know that the worksheet you are doodling on books hours to create, hours at home when I should be sleeping, resting, do the sheet you little darling"

    Teacher Bob "I wish the students knew how much I hate checking homework, so don't complain its the system, welcome to the real world"

    Teacher Mohammed " I wish the students would know how much I truly hunger for the end of term, ha ha 2 weeks to go then no school for 2 months horay horay horay"
     
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  4. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Well-Known Member

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    Great stuff!

    I always ask my students how they are feeling as they come into my class. I taught them feeling vocab in the first month. Many children that I've taught both here in China and in Korea, always tended to say the same few answers (so-so, fine, happy), because they don't know any other feeling words. Now, when I ask them they really tell me. Today one girl told me she was tired, and when I asked why, she said, because she has to skate almost every night after school and on Saturdays. :(
     
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  5. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

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    I truly envy your ability to overcome the power divide so pronounced in Thailand. Not only would my questioning of feelings be met with an "I'm fine" but would also be viewed with a suspicion.

    maybe it is deeper than this in my class room
     
  6. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Well-Known Member

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    Well the idea of 'face' is really important in China as well, but I taught my little ones about different types of 'feelings'. I noticed that many of them will not say 'angry' when asked how they feel. I usually get the answers that are not overly varied like, 'I'm happy', I'm tired, 'I'm good'. One thing I get less of is 'I'm so-so".

    I don't think this would go over too well with middle or high school students.
     
  7. Mr. Chips

    Mr. Chips Active Member

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    I also learned the hard way a few years back. Heartbreaking. Currently, I never single out a specific parent when that type of subject comes up.
    I rattle off multiple possibilities (in thai so they fully get it)...Ex: your mother "or" your father "or" your grandmother etc...
    Also covers other kids in the class who are listening but the question is not directed to them personally.
     
  8. chuachinsoon

    chuachinsoon Well-Known Member

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    Yea. Same here. Some of my students have got divorced parents. Some are renting an apartment away from their families, some are staying in a dorm, some have got dysfunctional families...
     
  9. sirchai

    sirchai Well-Known Member

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    It was two days before Mother's Day when I had to learn to be more child orientated.

    The lesson turned into a real heartbreaking one for me when I saw a grade six girl crying while the others created their cards for their mothers.

    I sat next to her and asked her why she was crying and she said:

    " I don't know where my mother is. " I've tried to calm her down and found out that her mom had abandoned her when she was five and went to one of Pattaya's "bar beers."

    She never knew who her father was and lived with her grandparents.

    But it wasn't that grandma took care of her. She had to take care of grandma.

    The homeroom teacher then told me that one of the girl's uncles had a "special interest" in her.

    This day has changed my thinking completely and made me understand how important it is to be there when students need you. To listen to them.
     
  10. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Well-Known Member

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    ^Awesome!
    I try to relate to what my students' may be going through, because I know that as a child I always had things going on at home that sometimes made me distracted. Grew up through a horrible divorce, lived with my grandparents, etc. So I always try to keep it in mind that children are all going through their own thing and it may affect why they are tired, distracted or angry.
     
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  11. ramses

    ramses Well-Known Member

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    The OP is a rehash of an old PD ice-breaker from years ago. The first time I encountered it was 6 years ago during a PD at a Singapore curriculum school in Bangkok. I am doubtful it started there, it was likely rehashed at that point.

    The context of the PD was in regards to a philosophy of education that takes into account differing child backgrounds and each kid enters your class from differing experiences to that point with differing levels of cognitive development and so on. The challenge for the teacher is then to create lessons that cater to and challenge each student regardless of what they bring to the class.

    I then heard it again within the first couple years that I was at my current job. And again last year (all three times to that point in the context of teaching or PD). Then I saw it again on Yahoo last week (the same as the OP). The pee was new, but some of the other items (jailed dad) has appeared in every version of the story. I do believe the teacher did post this to FB, but I also believe her *results* were heavily doctored if not complete fabrication or retelling of the same story I had already heard thrice to that point. According to research done by Rutgers, there is a 1/28 chance of a child having an incarcerated parent. If the child is black that jumps to 1/9. As a stats teacher, I can tell you the odds of this being the case in each of the 4 retellings of the activity begin to become remote. (Although, in any one instance it might be equally likely as unlikely). A lot would depend on the demographics of where the teachers are, and class size. However, if the teacher were in a population that would be more prone to such events occurring, said teacher would have to be incredibly naive not have considered the possibility before. I did this exact exercise with one of my classes, and shockingly (not), only a few (5 or 6) had anything related to home life, and nothing was salacious.


    To the point of the post though - absolutely, every kid has a story. and they are wildly interesting. Not every story bears repeating. If I told a teacher - because I trusted her or him - something like my father being incarcerated only to see that the next week on FB I would be mortified! My trust in teachers would be irreparably broken - even if my identity was never known

    But, let us suppose it is true - hey why not? - what are the odds that it is to the benefit of the child her father is incarcerated? Or is every prisoner non-violent or wrongfully convicted? How many kids are safer and can sleep better at night because the justice system gets it right more often than not.

    Knowing my kids come from different backgrounds is enough. I don't need salacious details. What is the benefit of that? To fill some morbid curiosity about my students' backgrounds. The stories we tell ourselves about students background may or may not be more scandalous than the reality.
     
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  12. Ajarn P. Paul

    Ajarn P. Paul Thread Starter มันเป็นวันที่น่าเศร้าในวันนี้ในประเทศไทย ...

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    I did see it on Yahoo last week.
     

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