As teachers, we fight so many important battles to help students become socially, academically, and emotionally ready for adulthood. Many times we act as educator, parent, social worker, and mediator. As hard as we work to help every student succeed, there are a couple of things I think we need to let go of. In my humble opinion, we shouldn’t waste our energy on small, annoying little bits that cloud our busy days with negativity. Below are a list of things I think we need to NOT let get under our skin. I’d love to hear your opinions or additions to this list in the comment section below.
1. Electronics during non-instructional time: The local schools in my area have a very strict electronics ban at school. I could be wrong, but I think busting kids for texting between classes or checking instagram at lunch adds another impossible task to our already over burdened to-do list. Students must learn to use electronics responsibly and attend class without distraction, but to me, it’s time to give a little electronic freedom back to students during non-instructional times. We have a lot more credibility when we try to control only that which can be controlled.
2. Bad “reviews”. If you hear around campus that you are known as the uncool, hard teacher, take that as a compliment. We should be kind and fair, but we are not called on to be easy or cool. We are called on to teach.
3. Dress Code: There are some dress code violations that are very distracting and potentially unsafe (e.g. in a science lab). Those issues should be addressed. Minor dress code infractions should not take up space in our minds or minutes in our classrooms. If anything, refer it to the proper administrator and keep teaching!
4. Minor Attendance Issues: Major attendance issues must be dealt with according to the situation, but we can’t drive ourselves crazy tracking down minor attendance problems. Let the attendance office handle it and move on.
5. Change: Everything changes. Whether it be curriculum, policies, hairstyles, language, or any other cultural or academic change, try not to get so caught up in the old way of doing things that you can’t adapt.
As a mother of a three year old and a high school teacher, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how positive discipline works in very similar ways in both contexts. We all know that discipline is key to effective learning environments, but sometimes we lose sight of the thin line between discipline and punishment. Now that most of us have settled into the summer, I thought it would be a good time to talk about some positive discipline concepts that work in high school. I’d love to hear your questions or technique suggestions in the comment section below!
1. Mutual respect is paramount. I doubt that many good teachers get into the profession for the power, but it is still easy for all of us to get swept away in the authority figure role. The best way to truly command respect from a student it to give it back in spades. Even in the most frustrating, immature situations, we have to maintain perspective to show students respect and dignity. The route of public humiliation and not smiling until Christmas is a rough road to pave and will probably not lead you to real meaningful respect and teaching.
2. Behavior modification should focus on solutions rather than consequences. Instead of focusing on the write-up, detention, or other consequence, focus on the solution needed to change the behavior in the first place. Because of personal strategies or school policies, we may still need to give out the consequence, but the rhetoric from us should be about solutions. Instead of giving the chronically tardy student mindless detention after detention, let’s not forget to have a conversation about the issue and help brainstorm solutions. It may be that there are home situations outside of the student’s control. It may also be that the student didn’t really care about the class, but after a conversation with us in which we express our concerns and really listen to student situations, we may change the heart of even the most apathetic of teenagers.
3. Keep calm and don’t take it personally. Classroom disruptions and other behavior issues are almost never personal to the teacher. I know how hard it is to keep our cool when we’ve spent hours preparing a lecture and learning activity that is disrupted by an unruly student. Staying calm and refusing to take it personally will help us focus on the solutions.
4. Have a sense of humor. Sometimes the class clown is actually funny. Sometimes things go haywire in our plans. We have to maintain a sense of humor for those times that laughing it off is the only sane option.
5. Let go of total control. We’d love to believe that we are in total control of teenagers, but of course, we are not. Trying to micromanage and completely control them is frustrating and futile. We must always remind ourselves that our classrooms are created with mutual energy and mutual control.
What tips would you add to the list? Any special situations you’d like to discuss with other educators? Comment below!
I hope that your summer is off to a fantastic start! I’m teaching a series of college application bootcamps so it seems that mine hasn’t quite started yet, but this week I want to share one of my major summer goals. If you haven’t made summer goals yet, I’m inviting you to take this journey with me and if you already have some expertise in this area, I’d seriously love your two cents! This summer I want to learn how to effectively use a social learning network in my classroom. I used collaborize classroom last year and I absolutely loved it (click here for a tutorial). However, some of my colleagues have decided to take up Edmodo or Schoology and it makes sense for us to have some constancy across the curriculum.
If you are new to the world of Edmodo, Schoology, and the other social learning networks, I’ll give you a brief definition. Basically, these websites (and apps) allow teachers to create safe Facebook-like social networks where they can post information, assignments, quizzes, calendars, videos, and other content. Students can also use the sites/apps to turn in work, which teachers can view, annotate and grade paperlessly.
Both platforms look amazing, but from what I can tell, Schoology’s iPad app beats out Edmodo’s app by far and Edmodo’s established user base and resources exceed those of Schoology. Schoology also has a pay-for-service LMS side,which I will not need as my school uses a different LMS so I am just comparing the two free services. I went ahead and signed up for both accounts so I can play around with them this summer, but I think I will start the school year with Schoology because we are going toward a one-to-one iPad program and Schoology plays nicely with Turnitin.com, which is my lifesaver as an English teacher!
Here’s an intro to Edmodo for teachers from @MissJill:
Ready, set, go! I’m off to the races with these social learning networks! I’ll check back in with this in the fall to let you know all the tips and tricks that I’ve worked out. Thank you so much for stopping by and don’t forget to leave questions, comments or suggestions below!