180 days out of a year for twelve years, children come to a building we now call ‘a school’. In this building they spend six hours traveling from teacher to teacher sitting, writing, listening and hopefully learning basic skills so that they may be able to survive in day to day life.
What are we teaching them? Are we as educators simply satisfied with knowing our kids can “read” when all they are doing is calling the words that are on the paper? Or do we want them to demonstrate that they can understand what the author is trying to convey through his writing? Does it matter that when we say “write” all they do is copy the poem from the door poster and hand it in? Or do we want them to look inside themselves and put down on paper how they are feeling as human beings in this world they live in. When we introduce them to the horrors of slavery, Hiroshima, and the Holocaust is it just the dates and events that took place or is it the faces and the pain we want them to know and learn? Do we try to impress upon our children that history is bound to be our future if we do not stop the cycle of violence and hatred towards each other? Yes, we do try, but rarely have success. We get frustrated when our curriculum units do not progress as expected, and eventually we give up and return to the basic CORE curriculum everyone else teaches.
Over the past years I learned that not only do my students need exciting, innovative and challenging units, I need to teach these units to break up the monotony of the school day and to try to delay my teacher burn out.
I have created a curriculum to enhance a Life Skills course taught in my school. My focus is on learning how to feel and learning what it feels like when you are the other guy. I am also focusing on effective problem solving.
This unit is written to teach children that they are just as important as anyone else in this world. We are going to spend an entire classes period of play therapy activities, activities that develop and enhance feelings of trust and self-esteem.
I am going to begin my unit from the first day of school, using my present class as a model class. It takes weeks for the teacher and students to understand each other’s personality and to develop a sense of trust within the classroom. My personal opinion is that the first three weeks of school are the hardest. This is the time to test and see how far you can go with the teacher and with each student in the class. As we say in the system, “The honeymoon is over!”
My unit may seem like a book of simple games, but these games help develop a sense of confidence within each child and a feeling of oneness and trust in the classroom. When you have that much security in your class things will go a lot smoother during the year and you will be surprised of the amount of disciplinary problems you will not encounter as a result. Each game has a purpose and is a building block to the next.
The following is a very general outline of what will form the first quarter of the school year. The first quarter of the school year is the longest and most “intact”. (There are very few school holidays)