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Posted by on in Classroom Management

Ding dongs

How do we deal with the ding dongs? We all know that without a solid classroom management foundation there is little chance for success in the classroom, but even with a good plan every educator is destined to find themselves face to face with a ding dong in their classroom. A ding dong is that kid, who, for whatever reason, has an itch to disrupt, be a goofball, ask silly questions or engage in what many would see as attention seeking behavior. In a perfect scenario that behavior would be eliminated with enforcing "the rules" but as we all know, none of us live in a perfect world. All of my advice assumes you have steady rules, good mojo with your kids, and most importantly, LIKE KIDS (but not in a creepy way). With that in mind, here are five strategies to deal with that everlasting ding dong.

1. Be subtle. Ding dongs want to disrupt your flow and want to be scolded, in fact, they expect it. So rule number one, is never give them the expected attention they seek. Use your body, use your face, use your tone to send a subtle message that their behavior has been recognized. Try not to stop the class mojo. If you are lecturing, try sliding in your behavior modification, "So when we study the elastic clause we can see that it empowers Congress to use the powers of the Constitution to pass all laws necessary and proper in order to calm Johnny down and give him the power to pay attention". Hopefully Johnny will get the point and your class will get a giggle. Use humor, come up with canned lines for scenarios.... phones out, ask them for their number so you can text them to put the phone away..... John Renn on Twitter has a great comeback for silly questions designed to get you off track; when Johnny asks, "Isn't it true that George Washington smoked pot" respond with, "Perhaps, but did you know that ice cream doesn't have bones?" Curse words? If they say "sh**", you say, "Please put that word back where it belong, because it's nasty in your mouth". You can come up with the rest.

2. Be daring. If you really want to convert a ding dong you need to form a human relationship with them and that probably needs to occur outside the classroom. Find ways to cross paths with the kid. Follow them in the hall and talk to yourself so they can hear you, as you mumble "I love teaching and if I could only find a way to reach Johnny'... wait for him to turn around and nod and walk away.  I used to resort to bringing my lunch to the cafeteria when a kid was being annoying, I would sit next to them and eat as I explained this would happen every time they disrupted the class, then I would lecture about history. Find out what the kid likes and make an effort; you showing up to their basketball game may have a bigger effect than any ten point action plan.

3. The pullout. Now I know many of us may do this. We take the kid into the hall and give them the riot act. Sadly, this does not work that often, and if it does, it does not last. So try pulling them out and connecting with the kid, recognize their power, their intellect, their humor and try to win them back. I used to offer them stress balls in the hall or give them permission to doodle, if it was about the content. Sometimes I would just bring them out and explain that I had to, and if we could just walk in like I yelled at them, I was cool. This in many cases made the kid an ally. 

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

classroom management

Discipline. Behavior management. Guidance. Whatever you call it, there is no topic that early childhood teachers want to talk about more, in my experience as a trainer and mentor, than what to do when children “won’t listen.”

I spent several years trying to come up with new and more insightful ways to talk to teachers about guiding children’s behavior. I’ve talked about changing the language we use from “punishment” to “discipline” in an attempt to change the adults’ focus. I’ve tried talking about how teachers can use “helping behaviors” when children’s behavior is challenging to them. I talk about “discipline” meaning “to teach” and not “to punish.” I see nods of agreement, I see note taking…and then I see a struggle to change when they are back in a classroom.

About a year ago, I had an epiphany. I developed a matching game to use with a group of teachers who were about to go through a four-session series with me on guiding behavior. At the beginning of the first session, I gave each teacher a copy of this matching game handout and asked them to read both columns, then draw a line from the behavior in the left hand column to the appropriate response in the right hand column. It looks like this:

img_0530-1

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Posted by on in Education Policy

JustSay

I met Leslie Van Houghten. It's not something I often talk about. Tonight, it has resonance. There comes a time we must reach deeply into our hearts and souls and reflect on common truths.

Recent violent events in our country trouble us all. I know we wake up and wonder what's happening next to test our patience, unsettle us as a nation, try our core values as a collective people. We wonder how to help our children living in poverty, how to level the playing field and bring us together as a village of leaders and learners. Our Vision and Mission for safe, well fed, educated children is more important than ever before.

Before I was a Principal and Curriculum Consultant, for a number of years I worked in penal education. Just happened. Starting as High School English teacher, it was apparent too many kids couldn't read well, or at all. One thing led to another and there I was teaching Reading and getting my Masters in Reading. My thesis was on "delinquency" and the non-reading correlation. Paths go in circuitous routes sometimes.

I worked for Ariz. Corrections, youth and adult, Title I program for inmates under 21, then Calif. Department of Corrections, the real deal. I "walked the line" at Deuel Vocational Institution, taught with cell study teachers at San Quentin, visited all prisons at that time with under 21 year old inmates. Our hope was to catch young people with aspirations for a better life and provide intensive academics, in particular how to read.

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