This is the last in my series of reposts to celebrate 3 years as a teacher blogger. This one is the response to yesterday's post: How to Have them Ready to Learn When They Enter the Classroom.
It's important to have the children leave happy for so many reasons. For one, you want them to feel good about school so they'll want to come back tomorrow. Maybe even more important, if they're feeling bad, that's how they're feeling when mom asks, "How did school go today?" This can lead to bad feelings and/ or bad communication, which we just don't want to happen.
I start my day on a high energy note (see my previous blog post: How to Have Them Ready to Learn When They Enter the Classroom) I prefer for the kids to leave on a calm, reflective note.
I play soft music as the children are packing up. (They tend to have trouble focusing by the end of the day, and the music calms them down and helps them focus on their responsibilities.) When they are all packed up, we meet in a circle for "High Low". While they are waiting for the others, they reflect on their school day.
When most of the children are ready, I usually start "High Low". I pick up a beanie baby. (Whoever is holding the beanie is allowed to speak.) I tell the class my high of the day and my low of the day. It might sound like this: "My high of the day was how everyone enjoyed the story I read. My low of the day was that someone hurt Susie's feelings at recess." As the children decide their high/low, they raise their hands. I'll pick one child and toss the beanie to them. And so it continues. A few procedures I've followed during "High/ Low". No one can be raising their hand while someone is talking. Don't raise your hand until you've planned what you're going to say. Say the person's name BEFORE you toss the beanie. No one has to have a low, you can do two highs instead. If you want to participate, you have to have at least one high. No mentioning names if it's not good news, just say "someone". If it's good news, use names! Don't toss the beanie to the same person every day.
Often people wonder why I even do a "low" for the day, why focus on the negative? Well, I've found that sometimes things bother the little ones and it's important to let it out. As long as it's anonymous, letting it out is a good thing. I also find that when I tell my low, it gives the children an idea on how much I care about them. My lows usually have to do with someone who is absent or someone who got hurt. A lot of thought and "modeling" go into my personal "high/ low".
I do find the children love it, and it's a great motivation for them to finish packing up so they can participate. I also find it's a great way to learn what is important to the children. And, of course, sometimes I find out things I didn't know were going on in the social circles of my classroom. This is all valuable information for me!