Hello! It has really been awhile! As often happens, life has been pretty crazy here! In the past six months, my family and I have moved to a new home in a new state (we are now knee-deep in snow here in northwestern Wisconsin), our oldest has started kindergarten (when did she get so big?!), and we have finished another harvest season (in addition to being an avid baker, we have a huge garden and can and preserve a lot of our own food!). Despite it all, I have missed all of you and blogging here. As 2020 approaches (how is it almost 2020?!), I am hoping to get back into the habit of blogging at least a bit more regularly. No promises, but I am hoping to talk with you every couple of weeks.
My kindergartener came home the other day and announce, “I hate school!” From a little girl that never says anything bad about her teacher, school activities, or classmates (well, except for the one time she told me that a little boy “pushed” her in the hallway), this was a very surprising and worrying statement.
As a teacher, I have heard similar comments. “My parents are the worst,” “School sucks,” and “Grammar is so stupid,” are not uncommon comments to overhear from frustrated or upset students. And when these comments are not directed to you, most of the time we just move on. When a student comes to you and expresses them though, as my daughter did the other day when she told me she hates school, how can you respond in a productive manner?
Step One: Validate Emotions
Whether or not you are happy about the emotion your child or student is feeling, it is important that they know that it is okay to feel it and feel safe expressing it. Reprimanding, browbeating, shaming, or ignoring someone because they tell you how they feel does not change the feeling; it only teaches that person to hide what they feel. Even if the emotion is not one you want to encourage (“I hate Suzie!” or “Math is so dumb!”), you don’t want that person to not tell you. Validating the feeling even if you don’t want to encourage it helps keep lines of communication open. Responses like, “I hear what you are saying,” “I’m glad you told me this,” or “So you are feeling ______” can be very useful when you want to respond without agreeing. Remember though, that it is also important to validate happier emotions too. It is just as important to respond to someone when they say “My teacher is so nice” or “Look at the grade I got on this paper!” as it is to respond to the more concerning emotions in order to keep open and honest dialogue going.
Step Two: Ask Questions
When kids (and adults too) are upset, they often don’t have the words or ability to express details. You can help them by asking questions instead of expecting them to elaborate on their own. The more detailed the questions you can provide, the easier it will be for the other person to respond. When they say “I hate Spanish,” don’t just ask “Why?” Instead give that person your attention and start asking specifics like “Did you get your test back today?”, “What is your teacher like”, and “When did you start feeling like this?” can be great ways to begin to get to the heart of the issue. Additionally, asking a few detail-oriented questions can help the other person start to organize their thoughts and emotions, and then they will often start elaborating on their own.
Step Three: Listen
When a person expresses emotion to you, they are trusting you enough to show you vulnerability. Respect and honor that trust. Take the time and really listen to what they are saying. Put down whatever else you are doing. Make eye contact. If it is appropriate, offer touch as a way of support or encouragement (a hug or even just a hand on a shoulder). Be present. The time you take to listen and respond will pay endless dividend as far as that person’s mental health, personal self-worth, and your relationship.
After validating, questioning, and listening, my daughter was able to tell me that it isn’t school she hates, but the long bus ride–a very different ballgame than I hate school. Often students’ statements are the same way: “My parents are the worst” often means I am trying to assert my independence, and my parents won’t let me make the decisions I want to make, “School sucks” might translate to I am really worried about failing that history test tomorrow, and if a student says “Grammar is so stupid,” what they may really want to say is I am struggling with sentence diagrams. By validating, questioning, and listening, you can help your students and others figure out the heart of what they are saying and address it.
How do you positively respond when students or other people express emotions to you? Share in the comments section below!
Have a great day, and…
In honor of Cyber Monday, Teachers Pay Teachers is having A SALE. It is going on now and goes through 11:59 (EST) tomorrow night. My entire store is 25% off. Don’t forget to use the code CYBER19 at checkout!
Interested in a free $10 gift card? All you have to do to enter the giveaway is tell me one item from my store that you would like to purchase with said gift card. Message me in either the Ask a Question tab in my store or in the Contact Me section in my blog (Rebecca’s Classroom and Kitchen) with your item and email address. One winner will be selected at 3pm (CST) this afternoon, and I will send the card to the winner by 10am (CST) Tuesday morning.
This Week’s Featured Product
In this project students create paper chains of compliments for their classmates as a way to spread holiday cheer to everyone. These growing chains can be hung around your room to add a touch of the holidays and remind every child just how special they are! Great for any subject area and a wide variety of ages! A fun and positive project for the days or weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays! This project is designed to take a few minutes each day for twelve days, but it can easily be altered to be done in fewer days or even all in one day. For more details or to download this product, click here!
This Week’s Journal Questions
For the teacher: How is the weather impacting my mood? How can I take this into consideration as I teach?
For the student: What changes have you noticed in yourself since the year began? How do you feel about these changes?
A Recipe from My Kitchen
My Favorite Cereal-Marshmallow Bar
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 15 oz. mini marshmallows (that is 1 1/2 bags of them)
7 cups Froot Loop Cereal (the generic version is just fine and what I use!)
- Using cooking spray or butter, grease a 9×13 pan.
- Melt butter in a large pan over low heat on the stovetop.
- Stir in the marshmallows. Keep stirring until they have all melted. Remove from heat.
- Stir in cereal until well coated.
- Carefully, because the mixture will be hot, pour the marshmallow-cereal mixture into the greased pan and press down until relatively smooth and spread out into the corners.
- Let cool, cut, and enjoy!