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February 06, 2007

R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y

Certain birthdays represent meaningful thresholds in our society; times at which someone decided we are ready to take on new responsibilities.  After seeing Aniyah today on her birthday, I’m beginning to think we should add the big ZERO-FIVE to that list.

Aniyah often has difficulty concentrating on group work and respecting others when they are speaking, but today I saw improvement.  During clean-up time I noticed Aniyah reminding her friends to put their name cards back.  We all know that if we forget, we will have to wait a couple of minutes before going to choice time the next day.  As Aniyah told classmates to “put your cards back, and be responsible” with a sing-song tone, I rushed over and thanked her for being such a great cheerleader.

We decided, spur of the moment, on a new title that connects her affinity for cheering to the classroom activities: Responsibility Cheerleader.  Her face lit up, and she smiled as she repeated the cheer while heading into the bathroom to wash her hands before lunch time.  I plan on applying this role to other parts of the day and think that, if she takes ownership of the cheer and receives encouragement and appreciation from me, the new role could, in fact, make her more responsible and respectful of her friends.

Aniyah also did a great job focusing during whole-group time on the rug, usually a challenging activity for her.  When she did call out disruptively, I did not call on her.  She ended up crying, because she did not get a chance to convey her thoughts.  I consider that a breakthrough as it indicates she is caring more about participating in discussions than doing her own thing.

Now, I’m not really sure if it was a heightened sense of maturity on her birthday that led to Aniyah’s super day or her mother’s promise of a Princess Barbie birthday party in return for better behavior.  So, I’m covering my bases and have spoken with her mother about an individualized behavior contract, which I plan on creating with Aniyah tomorrow morning.  As I have learned from experience, if we can isolate those behaviors we want to change and design rewards around a child’s interests, the child, the family, and I can more effectively focus on specific problems and lasting solutions.

We shall see…

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