What About The Student You Can’t Reach?

“Wheeee!” Savante screamed as he spun the teacher chair around in circles, narrowly missing several of his classmates and slamming into the bookshelf. A few of the second graders gamely tried to continue reading with their buddies, but most just watched him careen around and tried to stay out of the way.

What About The Student You Can't Reach?I pride myself on being able to handle most situations, but I couldn’t reach Savante. I called the office for help.

Two years later, Savante showed up in my husband Keith’s 4th grade classroom. Savante no longer spun around in chairs. Instead, he got in fights, destroyed office supplies, and yelled obscenities. My husband couldn’t reach him, either.

We’ve all tried to work with students we just can’t reach. The ones we stay up late worrying about and wish we didn’t have to face in the morning. The ones that can make us feel like failures. It’s easy to get discouraged and think maybe we don’t belong in education.

Have a Little Faith

And then something happens to remind us that we’re not failures just because we can’t reach every student, every time. We only have to do our best during the window of time we have with the Savantes of the world, and have faith that someone else will be there to continue the work.

You see, Savante showed up at Keith’s school a few years later to visit his elementary teachers. He was polite and well-spoken. He had an after-school job. He was passing all his classes in high school. And he came back to say thank you.

Have a Little FaithSo when you are tempted to give up on a student you can’t reach, just remember… Your job is not to fix them. That responsibility belongs to them. Your job is to do everything you can for them, and have faith that the right person will show up to take over when your part is done.

Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com

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3 Surprising Classroom Management Myths

If you are struggling with out-of-control student behavior, you may be buying into one or more of these common classroom management myths.

3 Classroom Management MythsMyth #1 – If you are struggling with student discipline, you need a stronger punishment to bring the kids in line.

This classroom management myth is totally untrue. Stronger punishments will only create an authoritarian atmosphere in your classroom that will eventually trigger outright rebellion.

What To Do Instead

Create reasonable expectations and proactively teach them to your students instead of just reacting when things go wrong. Be consistent and fair, and correct student misbehavior instead of punishing it. Learning how to do this takes training and practice.

Taming the ChaosTaming the Chaos, an entertaining video showing a step-by-step process for creating and teaching classroom routines, is now available in the Awesome Teacher Nation Resource Library in the “All Educators” section. Not a member? Join here for free!

Myth #2 – Some students will never change. It’s just the way they are, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

This classroom management myth is also untrue and is a dangerous mindset for educators.

Here’s the Truth

Every person on this planet is developing and changing at all times. No one is “set.” In order to be effective at classroom management, you must learn how to discipline behavior, instead of students. While bad behavior definitely exists, there is no such thing as a bad student. They all have hopes and dreams but need to learn a better way to get them.

Myth #3 – Some students respond best to frequent reminders and redirection

Actually, the opposite is true. Multiple warnings and repeated requests cause students to continue their misbehavior to test your limits.

What to Do Instead

Students are smart. When you give them multiple chances, they will take them. You need to prompt once and then follow through consistently so students will know you say what you mean and mean what you say.

So try replacing harsh punishments with clear expectations, labels and assumptions with hope, and multiple warnings with consistent follow through. You may be surprised how quickly your classroom goes from chaos to calm.

Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com

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Transitions – Save Time With This Simple Mind Shift

We’ve all had transitions go sideways in the classroom. You ask the students to do something simple like put away supplies, and suddenly chaos erupts. The noise level goes way up, the pencil sharpener grinds, and students roam everywhere. And you find yourself spending 10 minutes or more struggling to resettle the class so you can get on with the next thing.

Transitions can spiral out of control even when you explicitly teach the students your expectations and cue correctly. But if this happens often, it can cost you hours of instructional time. Think about it – 10 minutes for each transition of the day times 5 days a week – YIKES!

A Simple Mind Shift to Reclaim Your Transitions

If you’d like to reclaim your transitions, I suggest a simple mind shift. It has to do with your belief about what a transition actually is.

What if would happen if you changed your belief about transitions, and decided they were just as important as direct instruction?

Save Time on Transitions With This Simple Mind ShiftI’ve noticed that students and teachers both tend to think of transitions as break time. Students feel free to get a drink of water, come up and ask questions, and so on. A parent or other adult who would never interrupt a lesson thinks a transition is a good time to start a conversation with the teacher or a student. We ourselves often use transition time as a chance to take a sip of coffee, get our supplies ready for the next lesson, and so on. We are modeling “take a break” by our actions, if not our words.

What if would happen if you changed your belief about transitions, and decided they were just as important as direct instruction? That both you and the students have an important job to do, and that you would no more tolerate an interruption to a transition than you would an interruption in direct instruction?

Definition of Transition

The Dictionary.com definition of transition is “a process or period of changing from one state or condition to another.” Some synonyms are metamorphosis, alteration, and changeover. None of that sounds like break time to me! Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a great idea for students and teachers to stay hydrated and to move around once in awhile. But I don’t think every transition needs to turn into a break.

One of the best ways to signal that a transition isn’t a break is to require the transition to be done without talking and/or within a short amount of time. Be active during transitions. Watch what’s happening. Correct students as needed, and reinforce those who are staying focused. If someone tries to talk to you, politely ask them to speak with you during independent work time, or during an actual break.

How to Fix Inefficient TransitionsFree Resource – How to Fix Inefficient Transitions

If your transitions are in need of some spiffing up, I recommend the Target-Challenge-Reward method of fixing inefficient transitions. Awesome Teacher Nation members can download it from the All EducatorsAll Educators section of our Resource Library. Not a member? Get free access here.

 

Katrina Ayres – PositiveTeachingStrategies.com

 

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