Saturday, February 12, 2011

Not the Utopia I Hoped

While these pictures in no way represent the norm in my classroom, they do make one wonder. What am I doing wrong?
Add to this the fact that at least one or two kids breaks out into tears on a daily basis and I'm beginning to question the wonderful learning environment I thought we had created. (I haven't snapped pics of those sobbing students; it seems that crosses the line for me.)

Honestly, most of the time things are wonderful. I'm not truly concerned, but coming across these pictures after having just tweeted this yesterday:

did cause me to reflect a bit. This will remain on my mind as I plan our lessons, activities, and fun for the next few weeks. At least I hope I'll keep it in mind and work to make things better.


The Science Goddess said...

Students who fall asleep at school---regardless of age---pose an interesting problem. My father, who was a college professor, would continue to drone on with his lecture while walking by the student's desk and dropping a large book. (On one occasion, the student was so startled that he farted loudly as he jerked awake.) When I taught teens, I would make a decision whether or not to rouse a student based on how often the kid fell asleep. A one-time thing? I let them sleep (sometimes through the change of classes---with the student awakening in the middle of lunch or surrounded by entirely different peers). The kid who wanted to habitually doze off? Definitely a call home or discussion with the counselor about helping the kid develop better sleeping habits. And here you have tired little ones, who have even less choice about how loud parents play the tv at night or how many people are crammed into their apartment while they try to sleep on the sofa. During the school day, how do we balance their basic needs with the precious minutes we have with them for learning?

PamelaTrounstine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PamelaTrounstine said...

I'm with the science goddess. You may not be doing anything wrong. There are lot of kids that age that just don't have control of when/what quality of sleep they get when they should be sleeping.

An experience with a kid having meltdowns by early morning and dozing by lunch was living at the family shelter with multiple siblings and one parent.... turns out, all the kids must get up and go the bathroom en masse according to shelter rules, no kids could stay in the room without the parent. Meaning kids were being roused several times a night to pad their way down the fluorescent-lighted hallway because someone had to go to the bathroom. In other places, we'd call that kind of sleep deprivation torture. Cruel and unusual punishment perhaps. And it doesn't have to be a situation that extreme to make it hard for a kid to cope with the demands of being in school.

If a kid is nodding off in your classroom, one thing you have done right is create a classroom where those kids feel safe enough to let something like that happen. You don't sleep somewhere you feel like someone could hurt you any moment, so you must appear kind to them, and with an expectation that classmates will be kind, too.

If it's happening more than once with the same kid, it might be looking into the possibility of a new baby at home, a loss of personal space for sleeping quarters or other changes that could be affecting your students ability to stay awake at school-- and worth a conversation with parents/guardians in case some effort could be made to improve the situation.

But don't assume it has something to do with your teaching, because it probably doesn't.

Simmons said...

I've never commented before, but I just had to respond to this post...

I had the same situation this week with my first graders! Between 5-6 coughers, 3 asthma flare-ups, 1 earache, and a stomach bug going around, we had a rough week. Just think of it as meeting kids where they are and meeting their needs. During one lesson this week right before lunch, I had to cut my losses, stop the lesson, and we had 15 minutes of quiet time before lunch. Every single kid chose to lay down with a carpet square and close their eyes. Maybe all the learning from the morning just wore them out! :)

Sue VanHattum said...

I agree with the others. It may not be the same utopia you had imagined, but perhaps it's even better. Kids are getting their much-needed sleep with you.

Have you seen the research? Very few kids these days are getting as much sleep as they need. This has been a priority for me with my son, and at 8 he's still sleeping 11 hours a night.

Can you ask your kids to figure out how many hours they slept?

Michaele Sommerville said...

... and little ones go through growth spurt stages too, requiring extra sleep. While I might have been close to zzzz's during awful professional development inservices, the only other times I fell asleep were out of pure exhaustion. Are these kiddos working so intently and hard that their bodies are crying "UNCLE" and need a power nap?

Just because fifteen don't need a nap doesn't mean the other two or three don't.

And melt downs? Also perfect growth-spurty/human barometer/need-a-nap behaviors.

Hang in there!

Jenny said...

Thank you all for both the kindness of your comments and the thoughts about why these darlings are sleeping. For one, it only happened once. For the other, it has now happened twice on consecutive days (during fairly loud periods, no less). That one I'm looking into because I'm concerned.

I especially appreciate the thoughts about the daily meltdowns. I've gotten to a point where they just drive me a bit nutty. Thanks to you all, I will be able to look at them through a new lens and, hopefully, be more helpful.