Thursday, August 2, 2012

Classrooms lessons from a pedicure

A few weeks ago, my wife and I celebrated our 6-year wedding anniversary.  As part of our celebration, we went to get a pedicure.  I have to admit that this is the first time I have ever received one … and it wasn’t too shabby.  For those who may not have had a pedicure before it is something worth trying.
As I was sitting there relaxing, I couldn’t help think about how my first experience receiving a pedicure is similar to our students first time into new classrooms.  As our children enter our classrooms at the start of the new year, there are many “new” sceneries, expectations, procedures, and other children.  Knowing all of these changes that occur, here are some lessons that I learned from my pedicure that are applicable to our classrooms.
As I was sitting there in the chair, the lady giving me the pedicure obviously did not realize this was my first pedicure (or maybe that this is the standard procedure).  When she wanted me to move my feet, she simply tapped them.  I had no idea what she wanted or that I was even supposed to move them.  I did not know the expectations.  I felt lost and somewhat embarrassed because I was unsure of what I needed to do.  I had to ask her what she wanted me to do and that was a bit uncomfortable as I was sitting with at least 10 women also receiving pedicures who just stared at me.
Children moving into a new classroom often times are not aware of the expectations.  We might assume they know what to do, where to go, how to act… however, more often than not, that is not he case.  We need to make sure we take the time to share and teach the expectations from the first day.  But we cannot stop there.  We must reteach and reteach until the expectations are second nature to ALL of our children.

When I entered with my wife, we sat down and were directed to a chair and told to sit down.  The ladies came over and began filling up the water and tapped my legs again (I guess that is how they get you to move your legs/feet).  The ladies said very little and just massaged my feet and legs.  As I sat there in the chair, I watched lady after lady (as I was the only male in the salon) come in and out.  These ladies must be regulars.  As each lady entered the salon, she was greeted by her name and the salon workers struck up a conversation with each lady.  You could tell who the regular customers were based upon who they gave the most attention to when they entered the salon.  I am going to be honest, that did not make me feel the best.  I realize this was my first time at the salon; however, I was a paying customer just like everyone else.  Had they taken the time to strike up a conversation with me, I would have been more at ease and relaxed.  I just did not feel like they put forth the effort to get to know me or build a relationship with me.
When our children enter our classrooms, we first need to show them we care about them by observing, interacting and talking with them.  They do not care how much we know until they know how much we care about them.  The best teachers are the ones that have the best relationships with all of their children.  Whether we have had a child in our class for 5 months or 5 minutes, we owe them the same courtesy and respect and need to continue to build relationships with each and every child to make them feel comfortable and part of our community.
As I was sitting there in the chair, the lady working at the salon used a variety of tools, lotions and other “liquids” that I am not quite sure what they were to give the pedicure.  There were times that her methods felt amazing… and other times her methods quite frankly hurt.  I had to provide specific and timely feedback so she could change her methods quickly.
In our classrooms, we are constantly giving feedback to our children.  In order for the feedback to be effective, it needs to be specific and timely.  “Good job” is nice but it is not specific.  Good job doing what?  The more we can provide specific and timely feedback, the better off our children will learn, grow and develop.
 I understand I may be a bit weird… here I am getting a pedicure and I think about how it can be applied to school.  I guess I am just always reflecting and thinking of ways to make our learning center.  If we can keep these three concepts in mind (expectations, relationships, and feedback), our classrooms will allow for creative thinking, amazing growth and development, and powerful bonds within your classroom communities.  It may not sound like it from my post, but I did enjoy the pedicure and may even go back!