Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kai's First Election

There is a Student Council at Kai's elementary school.  Most of the positions are for kids in 4th - 8th grade (President, Vice President, Secretary, Spirit Commissioner, etc) but, starting in 2nd grade, each class elects a class representative.  Kailey's class is full of big personalities.  Each of the kids is Type A, wants to be a leader, expects everyone to listen to him/her... together, they are an exhausting bunch!  We were talking to Kai's teacher this year, and he was saying - in the most politic of ways - that this class is high energy and full of kids that like to take charge.  Poor Mr. Cunningham! 

He is doing a great job with them, though.  He's been modifying his behavior system to fit the needs of the class -- what he had in place last year that worked wonderfully for the now 3rd graders was not working for Kai's class.  That is, he has a system of writing a name on the board if a kid is acting up, and then there is a check mark if the child continues to act out, and finally - if it doesn't stop - the student writes a reflection paper.  This wasn't working for Kailey's class as a way to stop and reflect on the behavior and switch directions.  They tend to get going on something and, consequences be damned, they continue to go.  So, now, Mr. Cunningham has moments during the day where he stops the whole class and has them reflect on their behavior.  Kai came home with a sheet that wrote that at each interval she was on task, learning, and he name was NOT on the board.  She was so proud.  And, pausing for a little self-reflection instead of catching it in the moment seems to be working better -- at least for Kai. 

Anyway -- when the class got the pitch about running for class representative, they were all in.  Seriously, all but 3 of them decided to run.  Because there was such high interest among the 2nd graders, the teacher who leads student council decided to have three kids be elected, each to serve one trimester. 

Kai came home from the meeting bursting at the seams -- she told us she was running for class representative.  She wasn't sure what she was supposed to do or when anything was due -- but, she was running.  I thought I heard her say something about Friday.  But, it was only Monday and we had a full week ahead of us. 

Then, Friday morning, I woke up at my usual hour of about 5 AM (ugh) and was looking at Facebook and saw that the mother of one of Kai's classmates had posted a picture of her daughter's campaign poster.  I panicked a little -- were those due?  At 5:30 I woke Eric up and told him I thought that the campaign posters might be due that day.  Kai had been so excited -- but, who knew whether she would continue to be excited at 6 AM when we woke her up to make the poster.  But, we also didn't want her to miss out since she had been so excited about it.  So, we woke her up.  She was none too excited to get out of bed and make a poster.  But, she rallied.  And soon we were all sitting around the dining room table brainstorming about her campaign slogans. 

We asked Kai what some of the things were that they were working on in class -- in terms of class goals.  We were just trying to get her thinking about what it was they were supposed to be doing at school and how she could contribute.  She told us that they had goals like being helpful, being kind, and don't panic.  "Don't panic?" we asked.  Kai explained that Mr. Cunningham had noticed that the class panicked a lot, so the last class goal was "don't panic."  We laughed and then someone said, "that should be your campaign promise -- you'll stop the panic!"  Kai laughed but then said no -- she didn't want to write that because people would laugh at her. 

It took some convincing her that making people laugh was not a bad thing -- it's how you get remembered.  And, when trying to get elected, you wanted people to remember you.  Kai wasn't too sure, but eventually she went with us, designing a poster with 4 campaign promises:

-- make 2nd grade fun
-- keep the school clean
-- keep spirit high
-- Stop the Panic!

Kai was nervous about sharing the poster with her class -- and she reported back that night that everyone had laughed, but that it was OK.  She laughed too. 

Mr. Cunningham later told us that he started a little joke with her -- walking over to her desk during an activity and saying, "Kailey, we really need to make second grade fun.  It's no fun in here."  Kai looked at him bewildered and said, "it's fun!"  And he pointed at her poster and Kai laughed.  And then, that became their inside joke a bit. 

The next week, each student gave a speech to the class.  Kai reiterated her campaign promises during her speech and she said everyone laughed at the stop the panic part.  But, it seemed to work.  Kai was one of the 3 students who was elected! 

She came home from school Friday so proud -- and we were proud of her.  Kailey Schwartz Wesselman -- 2nd Grade Class Representative!


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