Karen has always been a fabulous teacher, but I think she feels new and improved after studying Concious Discipline (http://www. http://consciousdiscipline.com/) I think many of their principles are in inherent in Karen’s teaching—she is playful, cares about her classroom community and she’s concerned with the development of her students’ emotions as well as their intellect.
Students thrive in her classroom starting before they even enter, for every day Karen greets her students in wacky ways. Greeting your students is something Positive Discipline suggests, but my guess is that Karen has taken it to a new level. The practice urges teachers to offer students a choice of two greetings—one physical and the other non-physical. Karen told me at the beginning of the year most students chose non-physical, but that’s really changed in the past several months.
On the day that I visited, her two greetings were written on small velcro cards, posted right at the door (kinda like most teachers post lunch choices). That day’s choices? Jellyfish Greeting (touch) and Tragic Greeting (non-touch).
In the Jellyfish Greeting you mimic actions of the jellyfish with a push-forward, then pull-back motion, as if two jellyfish were greeting each other with double slimy high five. All the while, both greeting parties say in unison and in unity with their hand movements: “Big jellyfish…little jellyfish.” Most children chose this cheerful silly greeting. Here’s a photo of two students’ interpretation. (Why did I not take a video???)
A few children chose the Tragic Greeting—facial expression downcast, they shuffled into the classroom. Some of them couldn’t maintain that look long without smiles breaking through.
Karen has two baggies full of choices. Her favorite is the Reindeer Greeting. (see Karen modeling card and pose below.)
Can’t wait to see the choices on my next visit.