Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Everyone Has a Right to the Tree of Life" REFLECTION piece on Kohl & Kahn

      I was originally going to do a comparison post for both articles but this week’s Service Learning experience has shifted my post into a reflection piece.

     I walked into my last classroom of the day, which is an ELL class. I sat down with my three students and started working on letter cards. All three were participating in the activity.  I had them take out their decoder books and pick a story to read. As student one was reading her story I noticed that student three was getting fidgety. I took my eyes off of them for one minute to find another story for us to read and when I looked up I noticed student three was missing. I looked around and student one said to me, “Look under the table.” As I did I saw that student three was underneath it. I asked him a variety of questions and all I received was silence.

 I didn't know what to do. Pressed for time I decided to ignore what was happening. I continued my work with the other two students and eventually he came out from underneath the table. Unfortunately, he didn't sit in his chair but instead walked away. I had no idea that the teacher was watching this occurrence until I heard her scold the student for his actions. After my time was up she pulled me aside and told me that if student three was not going to behave he would be taken out of the group. I left the school feeling deflated. 

This occurrence bothered me all day so I turned I Won’t Learn From You by Herbert Kohl with many questions, hoping to find answers. Was my student deciding not to learn? Was he shy? Was it a lack of confidence? Was he avoiding challenges?

      As I read about Barry, I couldn’t help but wondering if Student Three was mimicking this behavior. The problem is I only have 30-minutes in each classroom. I am finding this a struggle because I have no idea what each student is like for the other minutes of the school day. As much as it may bother me that Student Three is hiding under a table or walking away from me, a quote from Kohl on his experience with Barry has put this all into perspective: 
“It helped me understand the essential role will and free choice play in learning and taught me the importance of considering people’s stance towards learning in the larger context of the choices they make as they create lives and identities for themselves.”  
      Maybe in time I will be able to reach Student Three just like Kohl did with Barry. After all, to quote Kohl one last time, “Everyone has a right to the tree of life.” 

      Now I would like to turn my attention to Alfie Kohn’s article “Five Reasons to Stop Saying ‘Good Job!’” Kohn makes some incredible points about how demoting saying “Good Job” is.

       I’ve never thought about it in that aspect before. After I really thought about it, this does make a lot of sense. I started thinking about personal experiences in my life and realized that Kohn is 100% correct. I remembered times where I questioned my answers or have sought out approval from adults. 

This week’s articles have been great tools to add to my toolbox. Thanks, Dr. Bogad for assigning them!

Question for the Class: 

Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do with Student Three? My biggest concern is having him taken out of the group. He is in my tutoring group because he needs assistance. I can't help but question what will happen if he is taken out of my group. 


  1. Hi Dorothy,
    Great post! I liked that you shared your SLP experience. I also liked how you included your personal thoughts/questions in your post, and connected them to the texts.

  2. Hi Dorothy,

    This is a great post, and I liked the way you drew connections between the article and your experience with Student Three in your SLP classroom. I can understand how tough it can be trying to figure out what to do when a student does something like that -- we're all new at this and still learning how it all goes! Only having a half an hour, once a week with them doesn't make it any easier. But maybe a good place to start would be finding some time to talk to his teacher (or maybe email her?). You could find out if this is a common behavior of his, and if it is, when does he tend to do it? Maybe he was just having a tough day that day, but maybe particular things like reading are a trigger for him to act out. Finding out where it starts may help you figure out how to handle the situation when the moment arises. Just a thought! :)

    - Jamie

  3. Hey Dorothy!
    Its great that you were able to connect your Service Learning experience with the article this week. In regards to what you should do if your student gets under the table again, I have noticed while babysitting my little cousin when she gets upset or frustrated she hides in a small space. I know its a little bit different in a school setting, but when she does this I go wherever she is and sit next to her. I don't speak until she does, and she will usually tell me what is wrong. Most times its something simple like her brother wasn't sharing, but moving on to a new or different activity usually gets her excited and happy again. Like I said I know it is different in school, but hopefully this helps. :)

  4. Dorothy,
    I think your student number three exhibits the same behavior as my student. I work with two groups of three ESL students.The first day went smoothly, partly because I think I was blinded by their "cuteness". On Day two, her behavior was different or maybe I just noticed it for the first time. I too had taken their Decoder book and picked out a story. She became easily distracted, not following along, disrupting the other children in the group, and asking every question which did not relate the the story. I always finished with a " Good Job", it wasn't until recently that I discovered that I was encouraging her behavior. She even asked me to "tell her teacher that she did a good job". I was confused on how to handle this situation, but I applied what we have learned and it worked. I told her that I would only tell her teacher that she did a good job if she actually did a good job. She asked me " What does that mean?" and my response was " What do you think it means"? She told me every right answer.... That she had to follow along, sit quietly, pay attention. basically the opposite of what she had been doing. Smart Girl. We just need to know that we don't have the answers for everything but when in doubt,go to the "tool box"... its paid off so far!! Good Luck and remember to be "clear, direct, and explicit"( Dr. Bogad). :)