Be the change, behavior, punishment, students

Common Misbehaviors and How I Work With Them

I am editing my book (to be published in mid-July by PLPress!) and while I am taking much out because it seems redundant or unclear, tonight I added more thoughts on getting rid of punishments.  As so often happens my thoughts kept evolving and I came up with this, hope it is helpful

Old Ways
New Ideas
A child constantly blurts or interrupts
Reprimand, check mark or anything else that signals they were not following rules
  • Partner share – have them tell answers to children at their tables before sharing with you
  • Dry erase board – this way they can flash you the answer rather than blurt it out
  • A tally sheet – They mark down when they blurt out to create awareness of problem, no punishment attached
The child that cannot sit still
Force them to “Pay attention!”

  • Give them a movement break – a quick walk around the school usually helps
  • Allow them to work wherever they choose, at least  then they will not distract their seat mates
  • Change up the way you are teaching
    @Cybraryman1 reminded me of ball chairs – which I actually have in my room and forgot to mention – these are also great for kids that are falling out of their chairs.
The class that cannot concentrate
Yell or raise voice, give them a lecture about importance of information
  • Change the way something will be taught
  • Ask the students how they would like to learn about it
Late or missing homework
Missed recess or phone call home, loss of privileges
  • Ask them how they plan to fix it.  Often students will brainstorm a way to get it done.
  • If they say they left it at home tell them you believe them and that they can hand it in the following day
  • Conference to set up plan for remembering in the long run
Yelling or raised finger, immediate dismissal to office
  • Much of this can be prevented through establishment of community, however, if it happens stay calm and try to joke about it
  • Speaking privately to the student about the disrespect and ask for reasons behind it
Constant chatting between students or passing notes
Singling out students, loss of privilege
  • Recognizing the conversation and asking them to stop then changing how the lesson is delivered  
  • Give students time to discuss or work with partners
  • Ignoring behavior if it is not a big deal
Excessive violation of classroom rules
Loss of privileges, loss of recess, sent to the office
  • Classroom discussion to see if rules need to be changed
  • Asking child why they are doing what they are doing and what you can do to help
  • Keeping it low key to not give it more importance and trying to figure out what is causing it rather than just focusing on the infractions themselves.

behavior, being a teacher, community, new year

We Should Act Like Our Students

image from icanread

You can feel it when you enter.  It hangs around you like a fog, enveloping you wherever you go, emphasizing the true nature of the school from your eyes.  Climate, and particularly a bad one, surrounds you when you enter into a school and can quickly soak its way into any perception otherwise presented. It doesn’t matter how many smiles you get, if a school is suffering from a lack of community, those smiles will not be able to mask it.

We spend so much time and thought in how we will build the community in our classrooms, perhaps even in our grade level, and yet where is our thought to how we will build community in our school for the staff?  At my school, we have new staff every year, and sometimes quite a bit, yet we assume that the community we have created in years past will just flow into the new year and welcome the new staff. What a strange notion!  We know as professionals that community must be nourished and preserved throughout the year and that every year we start anew.  So why does this not carry over into our staff development?  In fact, often in schools we act the opposite of how we expect our students to act.

We ask our students to work in groups, yet often close our own doors during collaboration time.

We ask our students to branch out and meet new people, yet we often stick to the same familiar faces, making it hard for anyone new to feel like they belong.

 We ask our students to discuss problems face-to-face, dialogue about issues, and come to an amicable agreement, yet we often speak ill of one another and shy away from conflict or confrontation.

We ask our students to work with new people and not always pick their best friends, yet we sit with those we know at our staff meetings and try to get into each others groups.

We ask our students to trust us as professionals, yet we don’t extend that trust to all of those we work with.

We ask our students to actively listen when we speak, yet we often bring work into meetings or have side conversations when someone speaks.

We ask our students to be up for the challenge, to embrace change, yet we roll our eyes and fight change whenever we can unless we are the ones wanting to do it.

We say this is a bully free zone, yet sometimes the bullies can be found amongst the teachers.

So we must focus on community and not just within our rooms.  We must act more like our students.

aha moment, Be the change, behavior

Why Don’t You Look Me in the Eyes?

Thea, my 3 year old, doesn’t look you in the eye.  In fact, she hardly ever stands still enough for her to  glance your way as you speak to her and very rarely does she look at you even if she is the one initiating the conversation.  At first I thought  it was just the way toddlers function, they haven’t learned conversational rules and etiquette and it falls once again upon the parents to teach it.  But once noticed, I noticed something else as well; how often I speak to her without looking at her.  How often is my back to her because my eyes are on my phone, my iPad, my computer and what she gets is an answer over my shoulder?  Too often…

And I am not alone.  My husband, Brandon, is the same way.  It drives me crazy when I try to speak to him and his eyes are on a gadget and he doesn’t even respond.  Yes, he may be busy, but still, the lack of conversational etiquette is annoying at best, infuriating at its worst.  Yet, this is our life, this is how we proceed through the day; constantly sacrificing the here and now for whatever is on the screen.  We are raising a generation of children that are not looked at when spoken to and then wonder why they do not look at us when we speak to them.

When will we make the connection between our own poor behaviors and those of our children?

So I have become very cognizant of how I speak to Thea, of how I look at the babies while I feed them rather than check Twitter or email.  I leave my phone in the car when visiting others, don’t bring my iPad unless we are spending the night, and my home computer does not stay open to the internet when I am not on it.  The less temptation there is to just check one more time, the more I focus on those that are important.  A small step indeed to togetherness and proper behavior, but a large one still since these skills will carry my children into the world, will open or close doors to them.  So if I do not model how to be in the now, how to be a respectful conversationalists, my children will bear the burden.  My children will be the ones to suffer from my own disengagement.  It does not matter that I may be learning something or working on something important, they should always take precedent and they do that by me looking them right in the eye.  Starting now.

behavior, classroom expectations, punishment, students

No School For You, Bully! But Did We Fix Anything?

The news broke last night that the 4 middle schoolers who were caught on tape tormenting their bus monitor received a year’s suspension from riding the bus as well as school.  A whole school year! (I should add they get to go to the district reengagement center, not just sit at home).  So while many cheered at the justice being served, I shook my head and once again thought about how we dole out punishment in the American educational system.

I am not here to argue that what they did was in any way justifiable.  I am not here to argue that they should not be punished.  But a year’s suspension?  Since when does any bullying incident result in a whole year away from school?  This seems to be another case of media sensationalism leading to excessive punishment, without actually thinking about how these kids could be helped instead.  Where is the repair?  The discussion of what led to all of this?  The plan for something like this to not happen again?

The sad thing is, we only know about this case because one kid foolishly published the video to Youtube, apparently proud of their achievement as bullies.  The bus monitor didn’t report it, or at least we don’t know that she did.  She also barely spoke up for herself throughout the ordeal, instead sitting their stoically taking whatever evil words they could fling at her.  How often does that happen, those untold stories of bullying that we only discover after it is too late?  How do school react to those stories where young children commit suicide due to the cruel nature of others?  What about the every day bullying that happens in our hallways, in our lunch rooms, at our recesses, right underneath our noses?  What punishment do those kids get?  How often do we say it is just a part of growing up, it is just a  part of school, it is just a part of life?  How often do we come up with a repair plan but then don’t follow through?  How often do we not believe the children that report the bullying?  So when a case like this one, that seems so cut and dry, we jump on it, flaunt our muscles, blame the parents and then punish those kids with every thing we have.  Those kids are going to pay.  Those kids will be an example.  Those kids will learn.  And yet, we don’t actually fix the problem.

So I wonder what can we as a society do to prevent these situations from happening?  And how can we serve justice in a way that makes sense, that makes children change their behaviors?  How do we focus in on all bullying and not just those cases that make it into the media, that start an outcry?  How do we teach children and adults, because adults are as much of a part of this as children, that bullying is vile and inhumane?  They say kids learn best from examples set, well, how are we setting the example?  What responsibility are we taking for all of this?  And how do we truly show kids that bullying is not just “not ok” it is deplorable?

behavior, being a teacher, punishment, Student

"Why Do You Only See the Bad, Mrs. Ripp?"

“Why do you always notice me when I am bad, Mrs. Ripp?…”

I stand there, stopped in my tracks.  Is that what I do?  Only notice this child when they have done something I didn’t want, when they have done something “bad?”  Do I ever praise them for when they are on task, not poking their neighbor, or just simply working really well?  I think I do, at least I hope I do and yet, this child is on my radar more frequently than others.  The level of distraction is just so high and the level of interference with others a constant.  Do I ever just say, “Nice work…” or just bite my tongue altogether?  I am not sure.

Perceived negative behavior zeroes us in wherever we are.  The people that speak the loudest.  The child that moves the most.  The student that just cannot get to work because they just have to do that one more annoying thing that you swear they know annoys you the very most out of all annoying things.  So if we let it, soon, that behavior is all we ever see.  We only see them moving when they shouldn’t, we only see them messing about, we only see them breaking all of the unwritten rules we have worked so hard to establish.  We only see the bad.

Why not give them a break?  Why not let them move about if that is what they need?  Why not smile or even just hold our words and let them shine for a little bit?  Fill them up rather than tear them apart?  Focus our energies elsewhere?  Just for a moment at least.  They know they are moving, they know they are poking, they know they are not working, and yet, let them figure it out.  Let them feel that we don’t just see the bad, we see the whole, and that whole is good enough.

image from icanread

attention, behavior, being a teacher, punishment, students

A Student Gives Up And I Get Even

His head was down, hoodie pulled over his eyes.  The frustration radiating out of him, the dry erase board lay there untouched, unwritten, and I thought to myself, “again?  Seriously…”  And the irritation in me kept growing.  This kid who obviously didn’t get what I was teaching had just given up, how dare he.  So I coaxed, I goaded, I even raised my voice a little trying to let him know that the choices he was making was not going to help him learn anything.  That I needed to be the center of his universe for him to understand it.  That we were not going down this road again today.

In my mind I knew I was going to have “the talk” with him once class was done.  I was going to tell him how unacceptable his behavior was, how disrespectful, how I would be emailing mom and speaking to his homeroom teacher.  I was going to give it to him good too because all I could see when I was teaching was that head down, hoodie up and that just wasn’t acceptable.

When class ended, he approached the table and I looked up and saw his look of sheer resignation, the, “Uh oh I am going to get it now and I don’t care because I just don’t get it”  attitude streaming from him.   So I said, “I noticed how tough math was for you today, how you had given up…” and I hesitated, noticed his downward glance.  “So I want  to thank you for continuing to try, for not thinking I was crazy in my explanations.  Please keep reaching out for help and I will try to get to you as soon as I can.  I know you can learn this, don’t forget that.”

Eyes up, shoulders back, and out he walked from my room.  Who knows what Monday will bring.