The norms of the characters in the story Chrysanthemum are challenged: even though they may appear "innocent" or "humorous" to the reader at first, the reader learns their ultimate destructive nature of the norms of bullying. The characters' constant harassment, exclusion, and ridicule of Chrysanthemum's identity and individuality are diffused by the end of the story. The music teacher challenges Chrysanthemum's tormentors by addressing the behavior immediately instead of brushing off the issue as though it is part of the norms of a school community: inclusion and empowerment are the healthy norms of a healthy school, not exclusion and isolation.
What does this mean for the classroom community and the entire school culture as a whole?
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We have the ability and power to change the "norms" of our school environment, whereas, long ago the belief was that students were expected to encounter some form of bullying during their career as students and this will assist them in forming their character. It is now known to be undesirable and unacceptable, and discouraging bullying and encouraging community building are the ideal norms.
As adults and children we can all make more mindful choices in our everyday communication that can either lead us to separateness or connectedness within our communities. Mindfulness communication involves the following elements: "paying attention, letting go of control, and acceptance. There is a lot of discussion about mindfulness in the classrooms — and adding that into a daily class routine is beneficial for assisting learners to be in the present moment and help students become resilient. Marshall Rosenberg, the author of Nonviolent Communication , explains that communication breakdown occurs when people are imposing their moral judgments on others and not truly listening to the speaker.
It's vital for educators to become familiar with various methods of communication styles; whether it be NVC or using something as effective as "I statements," educators need to find something that they're comfortable with consistently using and modeling with their students. It's a valuable tool to share once we've learned about our communication that way we can practice and share these skills with our students and continue to assist in creating a safe learning environment.
This is "the ability to take another person's point of view De Waal, PH. There are many ways to build empathy in the classroom. One tool that is usually overlooked is music. Music is therefore one component to help build a calm, compassionate, positively stimulated classroom community.
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It's imperative as conscious educators and lifelong learners who always strive to improve our teaching and learning environments to reference Gandhi and his point of view of how to integrate and embody non-violent curriculum. The author raises the following question:. We are human because we belong. We are made for community, for togetherness, for family, to exist in a delicate network of interdependence.
Teachers can use the following suggested activities as a means to scaffold prior to the main lessons for the stories, The Story of Ferdinand and Chrysanthemum. At the beginning of the school year we commence our journey by building a safe and engaging classroom community to grow and learn in. I review with my parents at the beginning of the school year the Lifelong Guideline and Lifeskills and we can both use the vocabulary in everyday situations when we're interacting with their children and with each other.
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I also highlight the unit that we'll be doing together in-class and at home. I focus on team-building since the emphasis is reading to the first graders on a daily basis to increase their vocabulary and assist the first graders as emergent readers. Back-to-School Night is a precious opportunity to share what I'll be doing in the classroom regarding to friendship building and anti-bullying activities — ultimately receiving support from parents to actively contribute in the community building and addressing any matters which will come up during the course of the school year.
I also communicate by a class letter every-other-week. It is vital to get family participation for creating our kind and loving school community since most of the time we have to rely on this team relationship for follow through at school and at home.
I want to support the parents at home and I also appreciate their help in the classroom too. The Lifelong Guidelines are the main amendments to our class constitution. We focus on Lifeskills of friendship, caring, and cooperation in the beginning stages of developing our classroom community. It's useful to introduce students at the beginning of the year to the following devices: creating a class constitution together which incorporates the Lifelong Guidelines of being truthful, trustworthy, an active listener, doing their personal best, and being kind instead of putting down each other, we pull each other up.
This year, with the help of my colleague, we will construct a pirate ship; our mascot is the image of a pirate, however, it will be made perfectly clear that we are "Peaceful Pirates" aboard the ship.
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The name of the ship is the "S. Friendship" with the message — "We're all in the same boat. The ship's sails will have the Lifelong Guidelines written on them along with the images of jumping dolphins with the Lifeskills written on the dolphins' backs. Hanging on a palm tree besides the chest there will be a key with the inscription, "Master Personal Best. The school community learns a pledge with movements to accompany the Lifelong Guideline vocabulary words. The following pledge was invented by our former principal: "I am trustworthy and truthful; and an active listener too.
I will do my personal best and use no put-downs on you. Another way to create a safe and collaborative working environment is introducing Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences MI Theory to highlight the students' strengths and areas for improvement as life-long learners. The MI Theory is defined as "problem-solving or product-producing capabilities. Educators can use music in the classroom to calm, activate, and encourage community building as well as teach valuable lessons. Students can also benefit from learning and memorizing vital lessons as well as remembering stories through music.
According to Kovalik and Olsen, singing songs is a reliable and effective learning technique for the following reasons:. I continue to have a deep emotional connection to The Story of Ferdinand because I'm able to recall the lyrics of the song based on the story. As mentioned before, thoughtfully-chosen music encourages empathy. All the songs on this CD include wonderful melodies and catchy lyrics such as the following chorus from the song called, "Don't Laugh at Me:" "Don't laugh at me, don't call me names. Don't get your pleasure from my pain. Deep inside we're all the same. We all need hope and care and love.
Don't laugh at me. Try conflict resolution! Certain kinds of music have beneficial concentrating and calming effects on the nervous system especially if it's relaxing instrumental or classical. I take advantage of this to create a serene atmosphere to cue students that it's a quiet concentration time —whether it be for writing or solo work time, I've had students request "concentration music. Music is also effective in building community. At the end of the week if students have consistently completed their work, we will have cooperative choice period. At this time students engage in social activities that will enhance students' cooperation skills.
One choice activity is music and dance. This is usually the most popular of all the choices. Students are able to choose the music usually upbeat and create dance routines and dance with and for their peers. Music is a powerful tool educators can use in their classroom to enhance their students' learning environment. Students can reinforce their practice of "I statements" with a cloze sentence activity. First, allow the students to get used to the practice of using the "I statements," by demonstrating using the lyrics from the song, "Fighting is Not the Solution.
Offer different scenarios where students can role play in pairs and use the script from the song. After, students can use the cloze sentence activity to write and rehearse with their partners. There are many breathing techniques to choose from to help create a calm and focused classroom.
We begin by sitting on the rug or "Contemplation Carpet" with the following guidelines: Prior to the activity students are reminded to continue to breathe as they listen to the singing bowl. It's helpful to remind the students that sometimes we hold our breath when we are in deep concentration. Students begin sitting "criss-cross" on the carpet.
It's useful to make them aware of their posture and constricting their breathing capacity.
Allow the students a chance to mimic an exaggerated slouch, then show them how to create some length and space in their spine by inhaling and gently making the spine nice and tall, then exhaling and allowing the shoulders to relax down and keeping the chin parallel to the floor. Students actively listen with voices off to the singing bowl as the teacher creates a sound with the singing bowl mallet. Once the teacher removes the mallet from the bowl, listeners continue to listen and concentrate on the sound even as it starts to fade away.
Once they no longer hear the sound, students raise their hand quietly with voices off.
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All students continue to have their voices off until all hands are raised. Students may want to remove the sense of sight if they would like to focus more. They may do so on a second round, ask if they notice a difference between keeping their eyes open or closed.
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The point of this exercise is to concentrate on their breath and the sound of the singing bowl. Teach students to use breathing techniques when they're anxious — because of a test, or upset because of a problem- or in general to calm when students are unable to monitor and check in when they are over-stimulated and can't seem to ground and focus. This is also useful before a teacher exercises any conflict mediation between students. It's beneficial for the teacher and students if the adult and students practice this together.
Another breathing exercise that is beneficial is the Breathing Technique. Students begin by inhaling through the nose for the count of four; holding the breath — keeping the mouth closed — for a count of four; then completing the cycle by exhaling through the mouth for a count of eight.
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Investigate other breathing techniques to use with the class and see how students' self-monitoring techniques evolve from a handful of exercises. I will always incorporate mindful movement with the goal of refocusing or re-energizing the students. For refocusing, I first teach students a series of stretches and dynamic movements beginning from the top of the head and proceeding down to the bottom ending with ankle circles.
I will mix in movement that will have the students crossing the midline of their body referring back to the brain-body connection. I also teach a couple of new yoga poses each week.