Thursday, March 25, 2010

Monkey see, monkey do.

This year I seem to have a clump of students hitting high school. And adolescence. I keep overhearing some parents saying to others;
"Seven days! How do you get your child to practice seve days?"
The answer, of course, has varied for everyone, but one theme has emerged.
"We've always done it."

You reap what you sow.

I don't know that missing a day of practice here and there makes THAT much difference to skill development. Two days, yes. One day, not SO much. When you consider that I will accept (on a practice challenge mission, which is all about achieving a certain number of consecutive days) the occasional day only a single twinkle variation gets played, it's obvious that this is not really about working through the list very day.

It's about establishing consistency. If mum will give in today, she might give in tomorrow, and then - hey, I've won! It's the eternal power struggle that every parent will face, and I've decided that how you deal with it defines the relationship you will have with your child.

There's a big difference between saying "Don't want to practice? Tough, you have to anyway!" and "Don't want to practice? Ok, how come? Let's have a talk about what we can do to make it easier."
Acceptance, validation, application of problem- solving and... affirmation that the practice is still going ahead but may need to have a different structure or level of support.

Of course, being adult and therefore believing ourselves to be in charge (ha! The arrogance!) many of us are inclined to button-push right back. (Isn't it funny- we are so quick to label other people's behaviour as button-pushing but don't look at our responses in the same light?)

So what?

Don't know. I'm certainly in a privileged position to see parents working with their children in many different ways at different levels of ability; some are absolutely inspiring in their patience, empathy and common sense. Big shoes to fill.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Whose responsibility are a child's manners?

Well, being a Suzuki philosophy teacher, I am inclined to say that they're first and foremost the responsibility of the parent. However, as a child grows up and goes out into the great wide world, other influences on their behaviour and attitude will soon become apparent.

A classroom teacher's belief in manners as currency or tolerance of rude behaviour will do a lot for a child's attitude, as will the other adults in that child's life; grandparents, the parents of friends, dance teachers, instrumental teachers, football coaches, etc and so forth. The list is long, and the influence perhaps incremental.

In a group situation, whose responsibility is a child's behaviour? Again, I look to the parents. Surely they will tell their child what behaviour is and is not appropriate in a group setting. If they can't, won't or simply haven't, then the teacher is left with a larger responsibility: to discipline a group of children in such a way that they are safe, learning, happy and engaged.

Dealing with young teenagers is the hardest. How to come across as authoritative yet avoiding Nazi-ism. I don't mind being the bad guy, but I do embrace the idea of tough love. Some things are necessary for the good of the group, and eleven-fourteen is not a bad time to learn those lessons.

Monday, March 22, 2010

So, who am I really?

Supposedly you have the potential to tell a lot about a person if you can get a hold of a sample of her handwriting. 

Or so says Lora @ Fever, and I liked her writing so much I wanted to play too.  Now, what can you all tell me from my scrawl?

The Rules:
write the following
1) Your name/blog name.
2) Right-handed, left-handed, or ambidextrous?
3) Favorite letters to write.
4) Least favorite letters to write.
5) Write “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
6) Write the following words in capital letters:
7) Write your favorite song lyric.
8) Tag people!
9) Any special note or picture.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Deja Sunday

Today we went barefoot bowling.
I've labored under a little deja vu all day; every movement seems to be the shadow of a predecessor, every line seems to have had a rehearsal.

Odd when I know today is not a day that has happened before, nor will it happen again.
Today a friend celebrated his thirtieth birthday.
His wife's birthday was yesterday. A couple on our lawn bowls team made their recent (Friday) engagement known.

My best friend's having another baby in July and people keep asking me how she's doing  in the same tone people ask "Are you still smoking?"

Tonight I - we, actually - got asked "So, who's least opposed? Who wants them more?" and once again justified our 'putting off' of children for more than the seemingly-standard year.

I'm a little scared of the loop that we find ourselves running. Baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, 30ths, infant birthdays and engagement parties. I'm not sure what to do about it but shrug, and accept that my students will grow up and head to high school, that I too will grapple with the issue of 'glamorous' maternity wear, that we will become the weary parents who say to their childless friends "Wait till you have kids".

I don't like it. I'm not sure what to do about it.
I think I may be having a mid-twenties crisis.