Sunday, November 3, 2013

Abracadabra! Poof! You're Well Behaved!

We have two new teachers in our sixth grade. Now, this sixth grade group happens to be a very tough group. I know I taught them in Saturday School last February. They were a handful and there were only ten of them. I couldn’t imagine them in a class of thirty-two. Colleen’s and my classrooms are next to the sixth grade classroom and it is not fun meeting them in the hallways, let alone, having to teach them all day.

The other day a couple of the sixth grade teachers were walking behind Colleen and I on the way to a meeting. The new teacher said, “Every time, I walk by your classroom your students are always quietly working and in the hallways they are perfectly quiet and walking in a straight line. You guys are magical!”

I replied, “Thanks, those are very kind words,” and continued walking down the hall. Of course Colleen and I had to stop in the bathroom on the way to the meeting because that is where we have our best conversations. When we got in the bathroom Colleen said,
that was really sweet what he just said but I don’t think he gets it.”

“Yea, I wanted to say, it’s not magic, darling. It’s hard work.”  

“I really believe people think we have a magic wand.”

“And fairy dust!”

“Throw a little fairy dust in their face, wave the magic wand, abracadabra, poof, you’re well behaved.”

Behavior management takes work. Colleen and I work very hard to have well-behaved classrooms:

1.             We follow school rules whether we agree with them or not. At Tomahawk the students called us the uniform-code Nazis. When students saw us coning they automatically checked to make sure that everything was tucked, tied, and pulled up.
2.             We expect all our students to behave. We explain to them at the beginning of every year that they were put into the best-behaved classrooms in the entire school and they need to work to make sure it stays that way. We have a quote by Martin Luther King that is outside our door, it states, “Those who walk through these doors never give up. They are the first in kindness, the first in moral excellence, and the first in generosity.”
3.             We have rules with consequences, both, positive and negative, and we never give in no matter how much someone whines or how inconvenient it is to us. “No, you’re not going to recess means no, you’re not going to recess no matter how many times you ask!” We spend every lunch in the room with students that must come in and those that want to come in.
4.             Be consistent. Students know when you aren’t and they will take advantage of that.
5.             We let our students know we are real people. I cry every time I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane where he finds Abilene after over twenty years.  
6.             We have fun! Many believe that because we are so strict that there is not one thread of fun in our classrooms but that’s not true. We have fun, lots of it, and our students know when it is time to stop having fun and get down to business. I wouldn’t be doing this job for over thirty-five years, if I weren’t having fun.

I know I do come on strong when it comes to behavior management. Sometimes I believe that I am all that stands between civilized society and chaos. So, here is a piece of advice to all the new first year teachers out there:
1.             Everything else falls into place once behavior management is established.
2.             It takes forty-five days to build a habit. Don’t give up on something you are trying for seven to nine weeks.
3.             You MUST work on behavior management every single day. There is no room for breathing.
4.             It’s not magic. It’s hard work. But so is teaching. Behavior management teaching goes hand-in-hand.

Paco’s Perspective

Be consistent. Give consequences. Expect them to behave. Hey! That’s like training a puppy. Do you rub their nose in it?

The Flip Side
I don’t know if anyone cares, but this is perfect lizard hunting weather.

1 comment:

  1. Behavior management is hard work combined with a lot of mind games! I miss walking by your room ;(