Let's face it; we as teachers are far from perfect. The problem isn't that we aren't all the ideal image of a teacher but it is that we make basic blunders which create a challenging dynamic in our classroom. Having challenging students is often our OWN fault and until we begin to focus on blasting these blunders, we will spend more time on behavior management than on actual teaching!
The beauty of Whole Brain Teaching is that all the mistakes have been found for us and it is simply our job to self evaluate ourselves and transform our teaching through the researched methods- it all must begin with eliminating these 7 blunders:
1. STOP YELLING
Let's be honest, we all know it doesn't truly work and all it does is exhaust us. Our students get yelled at a lot at home, does this make their behavior any better in school? No! Learn to control your emotions by controlling the tone of your voice. Take a few breaths first if you have to, because as soon as they can see that you are frustrated, they already have gotten the best of you.
2. DON'T CALL STUDENTS OUT
Students don't like to be "called out". If you do it in front of other students, they are almost always going to react in a way that challenges you. If you give them the spotlight, they will push every button they know how to in front of their audience. Every so often I make the mistake of doing this with a student, and all it does is create a situation where I become MORE frustrated by their behavior. I always prefer to make sure the class is on task and then pull the student out in the hallway to speak with them in a CALM voice (back to blunder #1). I always like to use the word "disappointed' to describe how I feel about their behavior and more often than not, they are apologetic. They never like to make this dear teacher unhappy!
3. BE CONSISTENT AND ORGANIZED
Our kids know when we aren't fully prepared for a lesson. They also know when we make idle threats. Students CRAVE structure and giving it to them will create a constructive classroom! You must have consistent expectations and consequences for ALL students. In my classroom, students know that there are specific procedures to follow, and WBT has really taken their level of independence to another level because they know what they are required to do and how to do it! We have special Podcast WalkKits (from TheWalkingClassroom.org) and students self manage getting them and putting them away in specific number order. Have students continually practice the right and wrong ways to follow procedures, and you won't have to waste time with challenging behavior.
4. SQUASH THE NEGATIVITY
You all know those teachers who are miserable and can't stand their profession. Being around those people is a drag because you can't help but feel brought down by their constant complaints and negativity. Imagine being in that person's classroom! Students can pick up the slightest change in our facial expressions and tone. If I come to work exhausted or in a negative mood, my student's energy instantly matches my own. If we are not happy to be at work everyday, our students will not be happy to come either! When I feel the need to brighten the mood, I ping pong the Scoreboard to get the whole class on a contagious level of high energy first thing in the morning! I'm telling you it works!
5. OVER PREPARE
We are not in one of those professions where we can separate our job from home. Most of the time we wouldn't be able to survive without bringing our jobs home in the form of paperwork and grades! As teachers, we are our best selves when we prepare outside of class. I have two young daughters at home so I often stay late after work or come in early to get what I need to get done. When I don't set aside the time to prepare, I am frazzled and disorganized which only begs for challenging behavior from my students. We also need to reflect on what goes wrong in the classroom in order to revise and refine!
6. INVITE YOUR STUDENTS INTO YOUR WORLD
We cannot expect our students to be like we were in school. You WILL have students that are more challenging than others, but how you view them makes all of the difference. If you allow yourself to view them negatively, then their negative behaviors will shine through. Invite your students to enter your world by inviting them to a more positive view of their true potential.
7. "GROW OR DIE"
If you are satisfied at where you are as a teacher, you are most likely STUCK. So many teachers are afraid to step into the world of Whole Brain Teaching because it means stepping outside of their comfort level. Once you begin to practice the strategies, you will confidently use them and strike out any challenging behavior that comes your way. If you are dealing with a challenging class, obviously what you are doing is NOT working and it is time to reinvent yourself. The hardest part is putting yourself out there, but once you do you will reap the rewards immediately! If you are not willing to grow, how can you expect your students to grow?
Chapter three was a wonderful reminder that WE are responsible for the challenging behaviors in our class. Until we are willing to realize that, the challenging behaviors will not change. Once you face these blunders directly, you will be ready to embark on the journey to Whole Brain Teaching the RIGHT way! My next blog will be on how we can chart our own growth and see how we are managing our student's challenging behavior!