Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Politics

I must say as an elementary teacher I never thought I would have to deal with such contentious political discussions in my classroom. While I was out one afternoon, my kids apparently had a poorly informed and most unkind political discussion leading to excluding others based on the politics of those children’s parents. Once I recovered from the shock that my kids were having this mean-spirited political discussion, I had to step back and think about what lead my children to engage in any political conversation. I had to ask myself the question why are my children who are only six having this level of political conversations? Is it bad, is it good? Do I allow it, or do I forbid it? As a child, I remember going to a presidential rally, but I never remember talking with my friends about the candidates and certainly never thought of their politics as affecting my friendship or respect for them. I spent wakeful hours that night thinking about where the line should be drawn between how much we expose our children to. Well, anyway back to my kids. I really had to decide what I was going to say to them. While I think that you want to make your children aware of some of the events that are happening in our world, I think that sometimes as adults we forget that they are still very young children. We must remember that they still need to be sheltered, and they are always listening and taking in what we are saying. So, the next day at school as a class we had a long conversation about respecting others and also about the upcoming election. What I ended up telling my children is that if they have questions, concerns, or worries about the upcoming election to come and talk with me or their parents. While I think it is great from a government or civics perspective that some of my kids are enthralled with the election, so much of their information is the sensationalism found on TV and in the not so watchful or mindful remarks of parents and relatives. I believe that as an adult when discussing politics or other subject areas with children, there is a fine line between what is developmentally appropriate and what isn’t. I think that we always must consider what is appropriate and what isn’t. I just hope in the process we do not lose sight that both teachers and families need to honor the innocence and ingenuousness of our little people and provide respite for them from issues and concerns that are too confusing, often scary, and certainly worrisome to our little ones. These are short lived and precious years, and we are not serving our children if we rob them of the protective, carefree possibilities of this time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Children's Writing Discoveries

Over the last week or two, I have been meeting with my kids to conference about their writing and coming up with a writing goal. I have always met with children about their writing, but this year is the first year I have met with them and come up with a goal for the month. This idea came from Katie at Creative Literacy. Well, the reason I am talking about this is because I met with one of my boys, Joe, the other week, and I was very impressed with his writing. He wrote a story called The Biggest Creature in the World. He based his story on the book I’m The Biggest Thing in The Ocean by Kevin Sherry that I had read as a read aloud. I asked him what made him think to make his own book based on this story. He explained to me that he just loved the story and wanted to make his own just like Kevin Sherry. He is also making a sequel to the book he wrote. His next book will be called The Biggest Creature in the Universe. I was so pleased with his thinking throughout this meeting. After we met, he was able to share with the rest of the class his thinking and his story. I believe some of the children will now begin to really start thinking about how authors are a great source to help them think of what they might want to write about during writing workshop. I will also use this idea as a jumping board to start having conversations about what books might help us during writing workshop. I really am looking forward to seeing what Joe will write and to see what some of my other children will be writing after they heard Joe’s story.