Master of my Domain

Donnie Dicus Elementary, Life in the Classroom

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Before you read this, check out these two articles!

Both of these articles are about things that have been “banned” from classrooms.  I think banned is a strong word. I congratule these teachers who have stood up and made rules to improve the environment of their own classrooms.  Now, I say banned is a strong word because there are many things I don’t let students bring into my classroom.  There are no written rules or guidelines that list all of these things and there are always certain exceptions to each item.  I feel that I am the Master of my Domain (my classroom) and I am entitled to create an easy work environment for myself and a safe learning environment for my students.  If its your house, its your rules. My classroom, my rules. It says Mr. Dicus on my door.

I had a big personal connection to the article about those silly rubber bracelets! I had a boy yesterday who had so many of them on that they went from his wrist to his elbows on both arms.  Now, he was just wearing them and not playing with them so I did not have any issues.  However, when we came back in from recess, about half the class was wearing them. My math lesson was punctuated with, “Stop snapping that!” “Stop, throwing that!” ‘Stop tying his fingers together!” “Get that out of your nose!”  I couldn’t do my job becuase of those bracelets! I finally made everyone give them back and told him that if I saw anyone playing with them, I would take them and keep them!  I had already had some issues with these bracelets last week.  I don’t mind kids wearing jewelry to school! But when you start playing with it, it becomes a toy! And toys do not need to come to school.  We are not here to play but to learn.  Your toys belong in your playroom.

This same boy with the bracelets also wears a rosary everyday.  He has told me that he has 15 rosaries! He has shared his rosaries with some of the other boys who feel that it is okay to use them as whips! Do I ban “rosaries” now?  That’s a bit trickier because they reflect religious beliefs of some students which I feel is important for students to express their own beliefs and personalities.  Can I expect my non-catholic students to not wear them?

This has gotten me to think about the things I don’t allow in my classroom. I feel that I do have a logical reason for each thing on this list!

Personal Pencil Sharpeners- Those pencil shavings get all over their desks and on the carpet. A mess to clean up!

Any toy- Your toys belong at home! I had a parent mad at me because their child brought an expensive toy to school and it broke on the playground.  They expected me to pay for it! (Exception: show and tell or playground equipment such as balls or jump ropes)

Pillows- I teach in a low income school.  Bed bugs and lice are always an issue at my school.

Hot Cheetos- I do allow students to bring snacks to school.  I am required by federal law to only pass out “healthy” snacks. I have a list of guidelines to follow.  Cheetos do not fall into these guidelines.  Besides, that red and yellow powder gets all over their fingers and then gets all over anything they touch! Another mess to clean up! (exception: students can bring these in their lunch and eat in the cafeteria.)

Gum- That’s should be self explanatory!  Cell phones, Ipods, video games- My 7 years olds don’t really know how to use these anyway!  Medicine- I had a parent mad at me because I wouldn’t let their child take a pill in the classroom.  This pill was in the bottom of their backpack unwrapped and not in any bottle! I had no idea what the pill was.  Can you say danger? That belongs in the nurses office!

This list does get new additions every year and some things are no longer problems. I haven’t seen Pokemon cards in a few years.  I used to “collect” those from students!  As Master of my Domain, I feel that it is my right to make these expectations!

What do you expect for your domain?

 

Donnie Dicus

Tucson, Arizona

My name is Donnie Dicus and I have been teaching in Arizona for 12 years. I came to Arizona from Southern Illinois to attend the University of Arizona in Tucson. I graduated in 2003 and began teaching second grade. I taught second grade in Tucson for 8 years before moving to Phoenix. I now teach third grade. I achieved National Board Certification in 2012 and I received my Master's Degree from Grand Canyon University in 2015. I achieved a National Board Certificate in Middle Childhood Generalist in 2012. I’ve been teaching mainstream and SEI 3rd grade classrooms in the Cartwright School District in Phoenix since 2013. I taught 2nd grade and was a math interventionist in Tucson in the Amphitheater School District. I’ve been a technology coach and have helped teachers apply technology to improve instruction. I facilitate coaching cohorts for teachers going through the National Board process and organize peer groups at my site to pair new teachers with experienced teachers. In 2010 I was nominated as a Rodel Semi-Finalist for Exemplary teaching in 2010 and featured as a Teacher Leader in February 2016 by the Arizona K12 Center. I have class pictures of every single student I have taught behind my desk on my wall. After 12 years, that is approximately 350 students. My students know that this is my Wall of Accomplishments. I am so proud of the difference I made in their lives. I became a teacher to make a difference and I strive to do so every day.

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