Balancing Playfulness with Self-Management

I have always been a playful person.  Humor and laughter are  important to me.  One of the best compliments I have received from my former students is this.   “When I think of your class I think of laughter.”  I measure the success of my day by how much laughter there was.   Even books on how the brain learns  recommend laughter as an  antedote for the inevitable slacking of attention in the classroom.  Laughter brings more blood to the brain and increases alertness. 

But………………….   The problem is that when I get playful and bring laughter to my pupils faces,  they respond in kind and become playful.  Often this results in amusing antics that improve the classroom climate.    But…………………. Just as often it goes too far and I find myself  raising my voice to calm them down so we can get back to the learning task at hand.  

What is the difference between spontaneity and impulsiveness? 

That is a judgment call.

If the action  disrupts the class in a non-productive way it is impulsive.  If it raises the interest level for learning it is spontaneous. 

Flexibility versus Absolutism.  

The atmosphere in my classroom flows between the two.  Sometimes there is absolutely no talking whatsoever to anyone for any reason.    Other times,  during class discussions,  a more spontaneous approach is used.   

Bathroom Pass Policy

The purpose of the bathroom  pass is to insure that all students are granted the same opportunity to use the bathroom and to encourage students to control their bladders and  use the restroom before or after school,  during lunch or recess.  Some students want to leave class several times a day to use the restroom.  Second graders  should be able to hold their bladders long enough to wait for the designated time.  However, that is not always possible.  So each student may use the pass once a day during class time.


Each student has a name card with a magnet.  It is  kept on the front of Ms.  Baker’s desk.   When a student needs to go to the restroom,  they take their card and place it in a small box at the front of the room.    They take  the lilac colored rope  and put it around their neck and go the restroom.   If a student has an emergency and must use the pass more than once,  they can move the name one inch on the discipline board. 


 Exercise Ball Policy

Students are allowed us use exercise balls in stead of chairs in class.   Sitting on these balls requires some brain activity to stay balanced and may help some students concentrate better.  It cuts down on the self-stimming behavior like tapping,  drumming,  whistling,   humming and other distracting behaviors.  Using exercise balls instead of a chair may also help strengthen the core muscles. 

Here is the policy regarding use of these balls. 

1. has the right to take the ball away indefinitely if the behavior is disruptive. 

2.  There are not enough balls for each member of the class.  Use will be alternated. Students have been assigned a music or p.e. day to use the balls. 

3.  At the end of the day the balls will be placed along a different wall so the custodian can clean the floor. 

4.  Bouncing Breaks when students can bounce high is done during designated breaks.  This activity gets the kids laughing and sweating which is good for the brain. 

5.  Students who are bouncing high enough to make the teacher feel sea sick,  will be asked to stop with a hand gesture.  A second warning may result in temporary  confiscation. 

6.  Do not drum or tap on the balls. 

7.  Students may bring their own balls, but they are not to share them with others.  I cannot be responsible for a broken exercise ball. 

8.  The custodian is willing to pump them up during lunch or lunch recess if he or she has time.


Late Work Policy

Students work at different rates.   I cannot wait for the slowest  to finish or move on for the fastest.  Students who finish early need to read quietly at their desk.    When over half of the students have finished an assignment,  I collect them all at the same time.      For many assignments I simply  check off whether the assignment was turned in,    or I mark  a score based on quality and quantity.

Rarely do I keep students in for recess.  Recess is my official break time and second graders need a chance to get outside and run around.  However,  I often tell the students that their ticket to recess is to get a certain amount accomplished.   If a student is on-task and doing what is their best,  they have earned recess.  

All papers  are kept in a student file and shared at parent conferences.   Incomplete work is discussed at that time and possible solutions are discussed.  

Incomplete work usually falls into the following categories.  1.  The student is wasting time and gets distracted too easily.      2.  The student  writes slowly  (boys are 1  ½    years behind girls in fine motor control).    3.  The assignment is a challenge for them in which case I will sometimes pair them with another student.  

I am reluctant to send incomplete work home.  Many parents complain about this policy because it creates a lot to frustration for them  at home.  Also, the parents may not understand the assignment. 

If students are slow writers,  I encourage parents to have their child practice penmanship  by copying passages from books at their reading level. 


Please No Gifts for Ms.  Baker

Please note that I am downsizing and so not want any gifts from parents.  If students want to make me little cards,  they are always appreciated and enjoyed.      No food.  No plants or trinkets.  Nothing. 

If I run out of supplies like white board  markers I will make a request  for those. 

Coffee  cards for less than  $ 5.00  are  an exception.