Chapter 15 – Discipline

Photo Credit: votingundertheinfluence.blogspot.com

Photo Credit: votingundertheinfluence.blogspot.com

At some point every interviewer or principal will ask about your discipline plan. Before I got my first job, it took me half a dozen interviews to catch on, but there are three good places to start an answer and one bad place. Don’t start with consequences for poor behavior. Interviewers and principals believe that you shouldn’t need consequences if you’re running your classroom well. Or maybe they think you aren’t positive enough. At any rate, don’t go there until you have to.

Instead, you can start with yourself. If you plan well, if your lessons are engaging, if you keep the length appropriate to the students’ ages, if you observe their understanding and adapt, you actually will have fewer discipline problems. This should, in fact, be part of your overall discipline plan. When you plan, will you differentiate? How will you handle that? What will you do with early finishers? How will you keep students engaged? How long will you keep students on one task? Don’t feel like you have to keep changing up the lesson. By the end of the school year, my 3rd graders stay engaged in open-ended research and writing periods for as long as ninety minutes, but they have practiced being deeply involved with topics of their choice producing complex work.

The other place you can start is by describing how you will catch students being good. I start every morning with “Good morning!” They reply, “Good morning, Ms. DeWilde!” (This is on purpose. I get a new student every other week who has trouble with my name.) I say, “Let me see your smiles!” I quickly walk around the classroom smiling at my students and give a free bathroom pass to every child who smiles back. Big grins, goofy smiles, and group efforts get two passes. Rarely, a child won’t smile, and I make a mental note. Truthfully, this all started when I faced my first elementary class with less than four day’s preparation. I froze and it was the first thing that came into my head. Since then, I realized that it actually improves my mood and theirs, too. It’s a great way to start the day. I have started other classes with Morning Meetings where happy greetings between students are a formal part of the morning routine.

After that, bathroom passes come out at somewhat regular times. The first table to transition, the first table to clean up, tooth brushers, those who read during our before school session, and those who can answer the math question on the way in the door, all get passes. I also give passes to every child who beats me to the playground line after I whistle. The other teachers have to go find their stragglers. They ask me why my kids run before I even whistle. It’s because they want a drink of water after recess and they can’t get one without a pass. Another time they get a pass is when I goof up their name. From the very first moment of school, a goofed-up name gets a pass. The students with difficult names suddenly perk up. Twins score all year long. And the two kids you chronically confuse aren’t at all insulted. At the beginning of every school year, I even had 6th graders run up to me during lunch asking, “What’s my name? What’s my name?” Having a hundred students would have made this a challenge if they weren’t wearing their P.E. t-shirts with their name in block letters across the front.

Those who accumulate bunches of bathroom passes can exchange them for a trip to the prize box. When I taught middle school, I skipped the bathroom passes, and just gave out prize box tickets. (In fact, in middle school, I gave out prize box tickets for not using the bathroom. Other teachers signed out kids constantly. Almost no one left my class even though I taught double periods.) I stock it with donations, Happy Meal toys, clothes, shoes, stuffed animals, lots of stuffed animals even for the boys, and anything kid cool that I can find on sale. At parent night, I would warn the parents that all of the junk from my house was about to appear in theirs so they might as well donate in self-defense.

The other rewards I use are homework passes and books. In middle school, I had so much trouble getting students to put names on papers that I borrowed an idea from Millie Fall, a colleague of my mother’s. I picked one assignment a week, and every paper with a name on it got a homework pass. My elementary school has also used a behavior chart, so after every twenty good days, I gave out a homework pass. If a child busted the chart with eighty good days in a semester, they got the book of their choice from my classroom library.

One note about rewards. Recent research (Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink) indicates that by giving rewards for work that children would do anyway, we can actually dis-incent them. All of those people who resisted giving rewards may have had a point. When I was a manager in industry, I also found that once I gave rewards, some employees would demand ever greater rewards to keep working. This is one reason why I give rewards at expected times and for expected behaviors. The other reason is that as soon as I get random, I introduce uncertainty and anxiety which reduces our learning time.

I also use ClassDojo.com with great success. It’s another reward system, which not every student needs, but it is so cute and fun that we all participate willingly. The positive and negative points are editable, and it runs on computers, SmartBoards, iPads, and Smartphones. That lets me use it from the front of the room, from inside small groups, and even send it with the class to other teachers. When a line forms in the classroom, I keep it quiet by passing the iPad down the line and letting each child use the random function to check on another student and giving him or her a positive point. Anyone off task would hear a loud whisper, “Isaac, you came up on ClassDojo. Get back to work!” Perhaps the best feature is the parent logins and Friday reports. They open a line of communication about behavior that has never been clearer.

At the end of our first ever ClassDojo week, the students didn’t want to erase their points so we invented a level-up chart like they would encounter in a video game. We have changed it over the last couple of years so now it looks like this.

Creatureland
10 Change your monster
30 Change to a critter or another monster
60 Get your login & edit your own creature
100 1 excused assignment
Passland
150 3 bathroom passes
210 5 bathroom passes
280 10 bathroom passes
360 2 excused assignments
Supplyland
450 Pencil top eraser
550 Big eraser
660 Mechanical pencil
780 3 excused assignments
Recessland
910 5 minutes of extra recess
1,050 10 minutes of extra recess
1,200 15 minutes of extra recess
1,360 4 excused assignments
Prizeland
1,530 1 free prize (5 snacks, 10 bathroom passes, or 1 teacher’s prize box)
1,710 2 free prizes (10 snacks, 20 bathroom passes, or 2 teacher’s prize box)
1,900 3 free prizes (15 snacks, 30 bathroom passes, or 3 teacher’s prize box)
2,100 5 excused assignments
Lunchland
2,310 Lunch & a video in the classroom with 1 friend
2,530 Lunch & a video in the classroom with 2 friends
2,760 Lunch & a video in the classroom with 3 friends
2,900 6 excused assignments

Stop for a minute and think about a thousand positive choices. Yes, a thousand. What could that do for your classroom? The first year we started using ClassDojo in November. Only one student made it to a thousand, and we celebrated her at the school’s end of year assembly. Last year, three students made it past two thousand. Amazing.

The final wonderful thing about ClassDojo was that it gave me a way to measure how much positive feedback I gave my students. I always suspected that I was a little short in that area. My principal wants us to aim for a six positive to one negative ratio. My first day with ClassDojo put me at 75% positive, or 3 to 1. Frankly, that wasn’t as bad as I feared. In order to keep my students’ trust, I have to make sure my compliments are sincere, and it took me a few days to find more places where I could be both honest and positive. Students, particularly if they come from difficult situations, have radar for adults who lie. In fact my first promise when my students start writing is that I will tell them the truth, nicely, but the truth. Occasionally throughout the year, I will ask a child if he wants the praise he usually gets, “Wow, this is really good!” with the false smile, or if he wants the truth along with help rewriting so he can get real praise. I have never had a child choose the fake smile. I have had children as young as 3rd grade rewrite entire pages with great attitudes.

The third place you can start in your interview is with your classroom rules that everyone has to abide by. Your principal or interviewer will want to hear that you let the students make the rules. In real life, this is a little difficult because you, the teacher, are ultimately responsible for safety and learning, but you still have to find a way for the students to participate. One mentor suggested that you let the students make suggestions and shape the words around to what you wanted anyway. This feels dishonest to me, and students know when you are making them guess at what you want to hear. Another problem is that I can’t handle more than five rules on a poster. It’s a personal thing. I know anchor charts are important, but I hate walking into rooms with lengthy charts full of words hanging everywhere. I feel like it’s evidence of a teacher that expounds at the children instead of listening to them.

To resolve all of this, I tell the students they may make four rules, and I reserve a fifth one to myself. That way if they forgot something important, I can add it. In middle school, I let every period write one rule, and all of my classes had to abide by the entire set. Then I begin the brainstorming process. I ask the students to close their eyes and imagine our best possible classroom. First suggestions are always what they have been taught, “Raise your hand before you talk,” and “Be quiet.” I ask them to think more deeply. What about raising their hand every time they talk? Is that how classrooms really work? We don’t raise hands in reading groups, or during contests. What are they really trying to say?

The same goes for “Be quiet.” Are classrooms quiet all of the time? Wouldn’t that be kind of boring? Should we be silent during science experiments? Research projects? Math games? As students catch on, their faces light up. They want to be in an exciting classroom where the work is interesting but they can still concentrate. They want a way to take turns that is appropriate to the activity. Depending on their age, they word it differently, but start suggesting what they really want instead of what they have been taught.

I put all of the ideas up on the whiteboard. (To speed things up, I have older children write their ideas on mini-whiteboards and hold them up until I get them transferred to the big board.) Then I narrow it down by giving each child three votes. I don’t waste time with hand raising; too many children lose track. Instead, I either give them three small Post-Its or let them make three dots (I have to demonstrate appropriate size). They can spread out their votes, or if they think one idea is super important, put all three votes on it.

It becomes pretty clear which ideas will win from there. Many ideas have no votes and get erased, as do ideas with few votes. We might have to break a tie, or combine similar ideas, but we end up with a set of rules in student language that we all can abide by. I add my rule if I need to, then ask a couple of children to transfer them to chart paper. The rules stay up all year in student writing. It may not look perfect, but there is never any question about who wrote them.

The process can get messy. One year that would turn out to be my most challenging, half of the class held out for “No rules.” I let them vote for it, and let it run for ten outrageously loud minutes. By then, four girls were complaining of headaches. So I called the room to order, and I discussed the injuries that can be caused by that decision. Some boys still held out, but enough changed their mind that we eliminated it. (Strangely, the one boy who held out the longest would turn out to be that year’s biggest tattler. I pointed out the irony to him later.) The magical part was that, having lived through that crisis, this class made the most inspiring list ever. Instead of listing behavior rules, they made a list of their hopes and dreams. ”Bring stuff if it helps you learn or concentrate,” “Use students as teachers,” “Bring lots of books to school,” “Have a no-distractions spot,” and “Learn history & science.” I’m glad that I trusted my process.

Having explained what a great teacher you will be and how you will catch students being good, now you can tell your principal or interviewer what kind of consequences you believe in. You will struggle with this, and the first thing you need to do is give yourself permission to change it mid-year. One of the great things about teaching is that you get to start over every day or even after lunch if you need to.

Most teachers are leery of sending students to the office because they don’t want to appear incompetent, so sit down and write yourself a long list of choices you can make instead. You won’t be able to remember all of them when stressed, and when we’re really stressed we resort to yelling, so write them and keep them somewhere handy. There are several good books and web sites about discipline. Read some and take notes. Do make sure you know how to refer students to the office, just in case.

One choice I plead with you not to make is far too common with older children. Please do not send children, usually boys, outside. In some states this is illegal as they are unsupervised, but some of my middle school colleagues parked boys outside for as much as thirty minutes. They wander around, miss their education, and don’t learn to behave any better. That said, I have sent seriously disruptive or upset children outside the door or to the coatroom to collect themselves. They go to a specified spot for two minutes (I assign another student to time it) near a window. It takes me two minutes to get the rest of the class resettled so I can go speak to the child. That leaves me with my back propping the door open so I can watch my class while the student and I talk semi-privately.

For a class-wide system of consequences, I took an engineer’s approach and tried ever more complicated systems. I have finally realized that I can only remember a few rules and, more important, any system is only as consistent as I am. I have to laugh at myself. Before I got my first job, a principal asked me, “What kind of teacher do you think you will be?” My answer was something about being stern but fair. Hah! Talk about lack of self-awareness. I had no idea that I would be overwhelmed by empathy, that I would make excuses for behavior, and that I would give far too many chances. The result was a nurturing environment for some and loud, chaotic classes on days when I wasn’t clear enough about procedures and expectations. I kept working at it, but it wasn’t until I read the preliminary results from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching project (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/college-ready-education/Documents/preliminary-findings-research-paper.pdf) that I realized how critical discipline was for student learning.

The preliminary findings have been released, and of all of the things that a teacher does – care, control, clarify, challenge, captivate, confer, consolidate – only two are strong predictors of how well your students will do in both mathematics and language arts. Control and challenge.

This ticks me off. With all of the caring and conferring that I do, I would like to think that my students learn more from me than from a curmudgeon who parks in the teachers’ lounge and complains. Perhaps not. However, there was one bright note. Test preparation is apparently a waste of time; it showed some of the weakest correlations to student learning. The researchers also took the statements assigned to control and challenge and analyzed them to see which were the best predictors of learning for middle school math students. They were, from highest to lowest,

  1. Students in this class treat the teacher with respect.
  2. My classmates behave the way my teacher wants them to.
  3. Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time.
  4. In this class, we learn a lot almost every day.
  5. In this class, we learn to correct our mistakes.

Since I suspect these statements generalize to every classroom, I have them in large type, pinned above my desk. Twice a year, I ask my students to hold up their fingers, one to five, and rate how we are doing so I know what we need to focus on and they know that I take their learning very seriously.

To keep control, the system that I have finally landed on is my own adaptation of The Honor Level System (http://www.honorlevel.com/ where you can also find a great article “11 Discipline Techniques”). I have 4 levels – Bobcat, A, B, and C that correspond to the student’s positive percentage for the past calendar week. Notes from the music, P.E., or any other teacher also earn Dojo points. Their percentage changes a little every day as old points expire and new ones are added, but it ought to be pretty high since my own goal is to hit an overall 86% positive or higher every day. The different levels are posted on the wall and earn different privileges and consequences.

Bobcat honor level students have remained 100% positive for the week. They get all of the privileges of the levels below plus they may wear a Bobcat button, help in other classroom and use Big Blue, our fragile but popular, unabridged dictionary.

Honor level A students (90% positive on ClassDojo) get all of the privileges of the levels below plus they may use college dictionaries, and participate fully in science experiments

Honor level B students (80% positive on ClassDojo) must use the student dictionaries, have limited participation in science experiments, may play with our Magformers and may go on field trips & to assemblies. That last item has been incredibly helpful to me as a teacher because instead of arguing with parents and students about whether I can trust that child on a field trip, it all comes down to a number. If a child cannot make a minimum of eight out of ten good choices, then we need to make special arrangements.

Honor level C students (below 80% positive on ClassDojo) are relatively rare because it usually means there is a serious problem every day. These students may only observe science experiments, and their parents must accompany them on field trips. More importantly, this is my trigger to phone home and ask for help. No parent can accuse me of being unfair when I phone home for every child that slips below 80%, especially since the negative marks nearly always come from different teachers. I use the collection of notes I dropped into Dojo to cue me about what the problems have been for the past week and keep the call as behavior-centered as possible. A few weeks on this honor level means it is time for a conference and perhaps a referral to the counselor of the teacher/student study team.

The thing I like about honor levels is that it is as stable and predictable as I can consistently make them. Privileges and consequences are posted on the wall. Most students stay on honor level A or higher all year. It is entirely behavior based. In other words, failure to turn in homework doesn’t hit the wall. It gives me a consistent trigger to call or write home. It also gives me some space to work with a child. There are a few parents who want a phone call every day or every time their child misbehaves. I don’t believe in tattling on children for childish errors, so instead I tell parents, “Here’s how I keep track. You may check ClassDojo any time you wish. I will call you if your child’s behavior drops them to honor level C. Until then, I would like to give your child a chance to see what we can work through together.” And the students check their level, constantly asking when negative marks expire. I have had students sit on the bottom edge of honor level B for an entire week. It certainly teaches calendar math. And as red marks expire, students move back up the levels and earn back privileges. They also get to use grown-up dictionaries, physical reminders that concentrating on learning might be worth it, although one girl did complain, “It’s boring being good!”

If you don’t wish to use ClassDojo, you can implement the same Honor Level system with Post-its. In pre-Dojo times, I noted every time learning was disrupted or someone was hurt with a name, date, and a few words about the incident and stuck it up on the appropriate honor level. Bobcats had zero Post-its, honor level A had only 1, B had 2 or 3, and C had 4 or more. The same rules applied. They expired after a calendar week, and privileges changed with honor level. I threw away the Post-its if they expired, but used them as documentation for the phone call or the letter home if anyone slipped to level B or C.

Some other systems I have successfully used are keeping track of strikes, which can work in middle school, and using class currency. It does wear out so plan to change once or twice. I’ve used stars, money when we’re studying economics or currency, beads or stones when we’re studying early humans, and resource cards when studying ancient city-states or the environment.  I have also asked groups to decide on leaders who are then nominally in charge. Be careful of this. Students who are the most authority-resistant are often the worst at using authority. One of my favorites uses of leaders was when we studied The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Every child took a lieutenant’s exam and the highest scorers became officers in each class’ merchant marine. Every group took on the name of a watch and the officers ran the room. The watch officers suddenly got a feel for how hard it is to keep talkative, inattentive students on the straight and narrow.

One idea I don’t recommend is poker chips. I tried this one because a mentor recommended it for my middle school students. First of all, the noise from kids playing with the chips is annoying. Then you have to mark all of the chips with a special mark or they bring them from home. Finally, the first time you have a sub, students will sneak into the classroom and steal them. If you hear about this one, skip it.

There are other discipline issues that you need to consider. The worst is theft.  A few students will steal from you, or from each other, and it poisons the room. Wherever there are desks, there are wandering hands. Where there are backpacks, there is a child wondering what is in them. Students who get free lunch want the goodies that bag lunch that moms pack for their kids. In the middle of lining up for lunch, a little boy will tug your arm telling you that his juice and candy are missing. It’s worse in middle school. Eighth graders will steal MP3 players and DS’s from 6th grade backpacks, then run a black market selling those devices to other 6th graders. Every backpack at a track meet will have been rifled. Parents will come to school insisting that the school replace the lost cell phones and DVD players because the school didn’t provide proper security. With what funds? Anyway, children who lost their iPod will tell their parents it was stolen in your class. Once, an assistant principal called me into her office to meet with a mom who was demanding the school pay for her daughter’s iPod despite the fact that the school rules clearly stated they were not allowed. Fortunately, I remembered seeing the wires in her daughter’s backpack which confused the child’s story. Remember that at many schools, if you confiscate electronics and lose track of them (or have them stolen from your desk), you have to personally buy a replacement. So tape names to cell phones and take them straight to the office at the first possible moment.

What do you do? First, enforce any school rules about no toys, no electronics and no phones. I also post a notice on my web site and ask parents not to send expensive items to school. Second, know that disorganized students lose something then shout that it has been stolen so check their desks, backpacks, and nearby bookshelves first. If you do suspect theft, your response depends on the age of your students. Most elementary students are not sophisticated thieves. Within a couple of days, you can figure out who has been sneak eating stolen food. They even leave the wrappers in their desk or pockets. If you post a sign-out list for who goes to the bathroom or closet, you can narrow down who had access quickly. If you want to check student pockets, don’t do a pat down. Simply ask the child to turn every pocket inside out. The pocket they’re avoiding is the one you want to see.

With a serious loss, like a smart phone or game system, I have a procedure that locates the stolen item about three-quarters of the time. First, I make a huge announcement, “That’s it. I can’t believe that you brought something so expensive to school, and I am very unhappy that we have to stop learning to look for it. But since we have to do this, here is what is going to happen. I will empty the closet and put everything in a pile in the back. When I call your name, you will point out your backpack and coat and we will go through every single pocket. Then you will turn all of the pockets in your clothes inside out. I will then dump your desk and seat sack and go through it. After that, you may clean your desk since you’ve all been asking to anyway. Anyone I am not speaking to will sit and read a book. Here is what I suggest. Since I will find what was stolen, you had better make sure that it reappears somewhere in the classroom before I get to you.” I start with the child who reported the theft to make sure they didn’t just misplace it, and I make a big production about being thorough.

Two things consistently surprise me about this process. First, a bunch of students jump up and turn their pockets right away. They also dump their desks before they are asked. I think they want the world to know that they are honest. Or maybe they just want to clean their desks. If they do jump early, I ask them to get a partner to check both the pockets and the desks. I am also surprised at how often the item turns up on the floor or on a bookshelf about twenty minutes into the process. I never see the student who put it there, but I am glad to get back to learning.

With older children, it can be more difficult because they’re better at theft. By 5th grade, students accustomed to stealing won’t keep the item. They will drop it somewhere that they can retrieve it later. Under the linings of trash cans is a favorite spot. They also like to use boxes that have been ignored in the corner for months. If you don’t know the drop spots, it pretty much means you have to catch them in the act. You won’t, but other students will, and if they know you will listen, they will tell you. Do keep an eye out for what seems strange. Shirley playing with a cell phone after school when you never knew she had one is a red flag. Check it out. Warner, a 5th grader, came to school asking if anyone could charge his iPod. Red flag. Why didn’t he have the charger it came with? It turned out to be the iPod stolen on our field trip weeks before. If you really need to find a stolen item, you can also check the kissing spots and the drug drops. Ask the students where they are; they wish you were checking these anyway.

Two lesser problems to plan for in advance are private conversations and wanderers. Wanderers get up for a legitimate reason (bathroom, pencil, a tissue), but take a circuitous route back to their desk, bumping into other students, running hands across desks, picking up interesting things, etc. Private conversations occur when a child jumps up at transition time to chat with friends and make plans for recess or lunch. They create drama, distractions, and sometimes tears. Both tend to occur when you’re not looking, and it’s good to have a blanket rule that you enforce every time. No arguments allowed. In my class, all participants do laps at the very next recess. They can have their conversation then. Being consistent about enforcing this has significantly reduced the problem.

You also need to plan for early finishers. Every class has a few students who rush through their work, then run up to tell you they are done. They fix the one thing you request, then rush back up to you. Being constantly interrupted gives you no time to help students who need you. Plan for this. Here are a couple of ideas. If it is an open-ended project, I recommend a strategy I learned from a talented middle school art teacher. Tell your students, “This is a sixty-minute project. If you do things fast, I expect you to add enough detail so that you spend the full sixty minutes working on it. If you work slowly, I expect you to edit and plan your work well enough to finish in sixty minutes. In any case, I expect that no one finishes early or late.” I may add, “If you do finish a tiny bit early, I expect that you will get a book out and read,” which is the standard rule in my classroom.

Another choice for the less open-ended assignments, for example a sheet of cursive practice, is to turn the early finishers into tutors for the slower students. I don’t generally like to make my advanced students do my job, but sometimes a student’s explanation is better than mine. Also, being a tutor has become a point of pride in my class especially because we did a training on how to be a good tutor and their page has to be perfect before they earn the title.

You will also have to plan for the chair-tippers. Since you’ll be the one walking around the classroom, you are the most likely to be injured. And it hurts. Also, chairs fall and children get injured. I had one break a tooth. Whatever you decide to do, be ruthlessly consistent. As soon as you let up, the chairs will start tipping again. It’s your toes that will pay the price.

There are several other annoying issues that will suck learning time out of your day. My current nemesis is water bottles. The problem is that parents imagine that their children treat water bottles like adults do, and they consider it critical that their children stay well hydrated throughout the day. So I can’t say no, but they make me crazy. Children treat them like baby bottles, sucking on them constantly, and needing refills or bathroom trips every thirty minutes. Then there are the chewers who constantly gnaw on the caps or even suck entire lids into their mouths. Others poke holes so it acts like a squeeze bottle and keep squeezing as it makes a crinkle, crinkle, crinkle noise in and out, in and out. I even had one child lay the bottle on its side, then get down on his knees and let it drip into his mouth. And when they spill, it’s always on a neighbor’s clothes or workbook. My current policy is that a child can keep his bottle until it stops class, then I keep it until the end of the day. I have one student who has lost his probably thirty times and still gets it back every morning. His mom thinks it’s important.

Jewelry also makes me crazy. Children don’t wear it like adults. They suck on necklaces until you can’t bear to look their way, they pull bracelets on and off until broken beads are all over the floor, and they misplace rings then shout they have been stolen. They even trade it around the room, then come to you in the middle of class because a deal went sour and they want it back. Even belts come off at recess to be used as toys on a good day and lariats on a bad day. One girl took every belt apart and used the pieces to threaten other students. Mostly, they spend the entire day fiddling with it and not learning. If you remove it, they will hate you and not learn. It’s a no-win situation. Deal with it depending on the child and be prepared to explain to the parent.

The agonizing choice about classroom discipline is this. You always have too much content to teach. When you are feeling most stressed, when you are certain that you will run out of time for a lesson, is when students will start kicking up all over your classroom. Two talk, one writes in his book, one draws pictures, one drums her pencil, two tip their chairs, one passes an unwanted love note, and another has been in the bathroom for a long time. You have to decide whether to forge ahead with the content or stop and deal with the context. You must make this decision several times a day. And while you can handle many things by quietly walking around, forging ahead with the content usually does not serve you well in the long run. Remember, it is how well you handle the context that gives your students space and peace for learning for the rest of the year.

Whatever discipline plan fits your truths and your philosophy, how well you control your class depends on how consistent you are. If you make excuses, or pretend you didn’t see, you can have the loud, exhausting classes that I used to have. If you hate your students, it is your fault. This sounds harsh, but you can’t change them. You can only change yourself. The very first day you hate your students is the day you need to change what you are doing. Go back to the basics. Are your lessons engaging? Is the length appropriate? Are you complimenting good behavior? Are you ignoring poor behavior? Are you being consistent? Are you resorting to yelling? Are you choosing content and ignoring context? Would you want to be in your class? What do you need to change? Tomorrow is a new day. Try again.

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