Many students come into the classroom with some sort of immediate issue that will impede their ability to participate in learning at that time. Sometimes just having an outlet available for them to acknowledge it helps to get back to active participation in class. This is a strategy I created and used in my high school English classroom, although it could be used in any level or any subject area. It will allow students an outlet to voice or acknowledge their problem or current state of mind without disrupting class or monopolizing teacher time and attention.
Air Your Dirty Laundry!
Printer-ready sign, rules, and laundry pieces
Notes on the activity, what I created it for, and how it helps in the classroom
Notes on how to implement into your own classroom
From the notes:
"I put up an actual clothes line in my classroom, but this could just as easily be done on a bulletin board, window, wall, or other display area. Underneath the clothesline I placed markers, crayons, mapcolors, scissors, clothespins, and copies of the following pieces of laundry (clothing items printed out on paper). I labeled the area with the included sign “Air your dirty laundry.”
Anytime a student was having an issue that was preventing them from fully being present and participating in the learning environment (maybe an issue with test anxiety, another student or teacher, being hungry, a home issue, etc.) they simply picked up a piece of laundry, wrote their grievance on it (and decorated and cut out if they chose), and placed it on the clothesline. This sounds silly, but ended up proving theraputic for students and it helped stop class disruption and off-task behavior that was occuring when students had some of these things weighing on them with no productive outlet.
Of course, if students were having a personal or sensitive issue, they do not need to post it for all to see. They could just keep the dirty laundry page once finished, throw it away, or just give it to me if they were ok with the teacher being in on what was going on but no one else. Simply the act of taking a little time to acknowledge and think about the issue really helped my students, and they only lost a few minutes of class time to do this instead of losing a whole class period because they couldn’t focus on learning. It is a self-directed activity at their desk that does not disturb others and allows them time for self-reflection."
Some example issues my students "aired" in my class:
comments about a challenging class
not understanding their significant other
losing a pet
being excited about taking the test for their driver’s license
things about me or my class that were bugging them (although they compliantly did not use my name)
school rules not being fair
Once introduced, this activity was a permanent addition to my classroom, and students used it all year long, whenever they needed it.
Thanks for looking, and check out my other activities!