Today, we have a great guest blog post all about community-building events! Enjoy!
How can a bottle of oil increase the self-esteem and engagement of a child?
It all comes down to positive engagement with our children's parents in order to emphasize the values that draw members of our classroom community closer together.
Home Life and School Success
Julianna is a shy girl who has been been despondent over the fact that her father must spend half his time working in another state. Like so many construction workers who have been displaced by the poor economy, he has made his way to North Dakota to work in the oil fields.
This has been particularly difficult for Julianna since she only recently started living with her dad and she misses him terribly.
So when Julianna's dad showed up at my door unannounced one morning with a bottle of North Dakota crude oil, I knew it would be a perfect opportunity to build up this small family and increase Julianna's self-esteem and engagement in my classroom.
Show-and-Tell with a Purpose
Even though I had planned no time in my schedule for a show-and-tell session, I immediately greeted Mr. Davis and asked him to step inside. He was as hesitant as a new student. I made him comfortable by introducing him to the class while pointing out out how happy I was that Julianna's dad was able to come to school and visit us.
Many adults, even the most well-meaning ones, really don't know how to talk at an appropriate level to children. They usually assume too much previous knowledge. That's where we come in to aid and assist (translate?) to help them tell their story in an effective and engaging way.
As Mr. Davis started to tell his exciting stories of rigs and pumps and burn-offs and oil-spewing wellheads, I made sure to gently interrupt to ask the class guiding questions to draw out their prior knowledge of United States geography and their experience with oil-based products.
But that's "parent interaction 101." The real magic came from building up Mr. Davis in front of his daughter and her classroom peers.
Investing in Self-Esteem
I made sure to ask Mr. Davis questions about how much he worked when he was away in North Dakota. The answer was over 100 hours per week. Kids understand that 100 of anything is a lot, and I made a huge point of telling Julianna how proud she should be of her dad who works so hard to bring home money for her family.
She was beaming with pride from the reflected glory of her dad, who became a minor celebrity in my classroom.
Although it took 20 precious minutes from my planned instruction, this interlude with a parent was worth every moment. Julianna benefited and Mr. Davis became a devoted supporter of his daughter's classroom...and his daughter's teacher. That will pay dividends in Julianna's progress all year long.
Have you had an unannounced parent show-and-tell?