I Just Don't Do Those Things

There are two approaches to New Year's resolutions.  One approach is to optimistically resolve to change something about your life, your commitment to hair brushing, or your homework habits.  This is what all of my students do when, well, when I force them to after winter break.

The kids think very hard about the things their dads, teachers, or dentists have been nagging them about throughout the past year and decide, "Hey--maybe I could give this whole homework thing a try."  The students' resolutions often sound an awful lot like reminders I frequently give or like the wording of our classroom rules.....

I will keep doing a good job and pay attention to the person talking.
Image: freephotoshop.org

This year I will not talk much so I can do my work.

My New Year's resolution is to work harder on math and to pay attention in class.

This year I will do all of my homework.

Yes!  Yes!  I exclaim.  This is what I've been talking about!  Homework!  Paying attention!  Less talking!  It's going to be a great year.

The kids' non-school resolutions are likely echoes of similar reminders at home.  Yes!  Yes!  Their parents perhaps exclaim.  This is what we've been talking about!  Cleaning the bathroom!  Helping with the dishes!  TV off!

My New Year's resolution is to brush my hair more.

This year I will do my bathroom chores.

I will help my grandmother do the dishes.

This year I will turn my T.V. off so I can work on my homework.

I will try to take a bath every other night.

This year I will not have more cavities than eight (what I have).

The other approach, though, is to recognize and embrace the fact that you're just not a "daily flossing" or a "following directions" kind of person.  Third grade Nina captured this pretty well one year when she asked what she needed to do to earn some free reading time.  Curling up and reading in the classroom library was Nina's favorite thing to do and we were using this reward as a way to help her improve her behavior in class.  We explained that she had to meet her goals--things she had been working on getting better at all year.  The key to free reading in the library would come in the form of: following directions, asking permission, putting in a good effort, and being kind to others.  Nina considered the list of goals for a split second and then replied, "I just don't do those things."

Basically, the philosophy is, "I know I won't do that, so why pretend?"  I, myself, could make a resolution to open the mail at home (even the boring mail!) in a timely fashion and to not let it completely cover the kitchen table.  However, I think I'm just not a mail-opening kind of person and I'm OK with that.  2011 will just be another year of kitchen table piles.  Eh.  Maybe 2012 will be my year.


Sherri said...

I love the honesty of just coming right out and saying "I just don't do those things!".

Can I borrow that phrase, because I'm already thinking it will come in handy when school starts back up Monday.

Happy New Year!

Sarah Garb said...

Absolutely, Sherri ;) "I could actually put away all of those papers on my desk or get a jump on grading earlier in the week....but I just don't do those things. Hope you get good use out of it!

Sparkling said...

Kids are so honest about that kind of stuff.

I read this and thought "wow, if I could just curl up in my reading library.... I'm good, I'm kind, I pay attention, I do my work, how come I can't be rewarded with quiet reading time in my classroom while others are working????"

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