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Herding Cats


THIS is a FOX40 whistle. It is THE whistle. I bought it to help get the kid’s attention while outside and on field trips. I’ve been wanting to get it for a while and then a very dangerous event happened while we were crossing the street downtown that convinced me we absolutely needed it.

On campus it’s really annoying to go around to rally the kids together and let them know that a meeting is about to start or that it’s time to clean up. When off campus I feel so much anxiety compensating for the lack of attention the kids pay and the lack of etiquette they display.

I don’t like shouting or calling names over and over again. It occasionally gets to a point where I just have to grab and redirect a kid when we’re out and about. Field trips tend to feel far more stressful than fun. So I got a whistle.

We also have a simple zen chime to get attention and to signal the start of our large group meetings. The kids have expressed how unpleasant it is when we hit the bell too hard and the facilitators have expressed how the bell would hardly be necessary if everyone transitioned smoothly and responded to the first soft chime. It’s been some weeks and the start of meetings happen a lot quicker. The bell is now less about getting attention and more about a ritual that says “let’s begin”. I even countdown the bell with a 3, 2, 1 beforehand.

Outside the whistle is showing some effect. 2 short toots and an announcement seems to get enough of the kids moving to build momentum.

The next thing is to see how its use improves off campus experience.

One comment

  1. Melissa says:

    I hear how tense it must make you to wrangle the children, particularly offsite. I remember feeling this way last year, and was concerned about the children getting lost on field trips. I even had a kid go missing the year before on a trip to the zoo. He was 13, and the group assigned to me was only 4-5 kids. Two of the kids, both 9 year olds, (one being Evan) had heart defects and the zoo was hot that day and very hilly, so I was more worried about them. We stopped to refill water bottles and I turned around and this kid was just gone. We looked for him nearby, but to no avail, and quickly notified a zoo employee. The kid was found near the zoo entrance. He had apparently had enough and decided to get back on the tram to the entrance, without letting anyone know. I was horrified. I have worked with kids my whole life, even leading them through the streets of NYC and on and off subways, and had never lost one. Last fall, I felt uncomfortable when we took the kids to a children’s museum with a huge outdoor area with treehouses, a small stream, and tons of other kids. I decided that for my sanity, I NEEDED the kids to AT LEAST be wearing a school shirt in the same color. This way we could scan for the kids more easily. We purchased those and now the kids wear them sporadically, and never all on field trips. HaHa! I have slowly become more comfortable and trusting of the kids and their judgment, and have seen how they look out for each other. One final thought is that some kids at Heartwood may be sensitive to sounds and noise. A technique I used in public school that might be less jarring for your kids is to say “Shhh, shhh, shhhh” when you need their attention. Then they respond “Shhh, shhh, shhh”. 😉

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