Taking time for the whole child

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(For new teachers and anyone else who is interested.)

Sometimes today with our preplanned lessons and scripted curricula, we find ourselves breathlessly short of time. May I suggest you free a few non-curricular minutes? Character really does count. Historically, teachers took time for more than math and English. You should too. Do what you have to do. Skip an opening activity if you must or make an exit ticket that does necessarily include academics.

The exact life lesson you present will often be determined by circumstances. When a stapler disappears, that’s the week for the anti-theft lesson. When Joy curses out Miranda, that’s a fine day to present the Captain America language lesson. What did Captain America mean when he said “language”? Why do you think he said that? Does the language you use with friends matter? Does the language you use in class matter? Why? You can find character-building activities on the internet when you do not have time to make your own.

If you are in middle-school or high-school, you might want to share some of what you have been learning in professional development. That Carol Dweck growth mindset idea deserves a full explanation, for example. You might combine your subject matter with a PowerPoint on predictors used to anticipate student drop-outs. That PowerPoint may hammer home why students should not slack off in school in a way that short classroom reminders cannot. Kids benefit from hearing about the big picture. They also enjoy an escape from academic minutiae.

Eduhonesty: Schools are now often preplanning any whole child education during tutoring or RtI periods. Those tutoring moments are fine as far as they go, but they seldom work as well as taking advantage of the “right” moment. Joy’s outburst may be the perfect first act in the play that will be your (bad) language lesson.

Carpe diem.