have the power to transform lives - for better or worse.
It takes so little on our part to make a significant
and positive difference in the lives of our students.
Start the new year by practicing three very simple policies:
See the good in every student and make sure they know
it. We teach because we love children. Let that show.
Start every conversation with a student by sincerely
noting or praising their strengths. Even in the most
frustrating of situations, diffuse tension and open
communication lines by first noting the child's strong
points. Make sure to point out their gifts and positive
efforts in front of peers too
Avoid punishment - always. You may have to remind yourself
constantly that punishment is not an effective way to
change behavior. Despite the brief immediate stress
relief we may feel at the time, punishment degrades
the spirit, jeopardizes relationships, leads to more
aggression and exacerbates the problem. Use some type
of reinforcer instead.
this week I heard a teacher tell a student, "This is
the 2nd day in a row you've come to class without your
notebook. If it happens again, you're going to lose
some privileges". The child nodded, grumbled, hung her
head down looking dejected and shuffled back to her
desk. With a simple sentence, the teacher made the classroom
environment an uncomfortable place and set up a confrontational
agenda with the student. How much better to have said,
"Jenna, you seem to have a hard time remembering your
notebook. Let's see if we can come up with a way to
help you remember. If you can come a bit early tomorrow
and remember to bring your notebook with you, you'll
get to be in charge of feeding the goldfish for me".
Reinforcers work by making the CHILD want the behavioral
change as much as the teacher.
Compliment the effort taken for success rather than
assume a natural gift in the child. "You work so hard
on your spelling and it's really paying off" is much
better than "You are so good at spelling," The difference
between a "hopeful" attitude and a "hopeless" one comes
down to a sense of control over one's life. Those who
feel they are either born winners or born losers and
there is nothing they can do to change that, end up
seeing life as "hopeless". Those who see that winners
and losers are the result of one's effort and choices
tend to be hopeful people. "I'm not good at math" versus
"I'm not good at math yet, but I'm working on it."
Small changes on your part can lead to big changes in
your students, your classroom and your school. Don't
just teach - celebrate it!