WHY CHOOSE US?
The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle with Gilligan the Skipper too the millionaire and his wife. These days are all Happy and Free. These days are all share them with me.
It’s time to put on makeup. It’s time to dress up right. It’s time to raise the curtain on the Muppet Show tonight.
OUR KIDS TEACHERS
PARENTS SAY ABOUT US
Perhaps this is the leading antidote to poor classroom behavior—creating a classroom environment of happy and engaged students. When I observe classrooms where students are misbehaving, I almost always detect some gap between the aims the teacher has for that class and the methodology that should be in place to engage learners. When students are not engaged, trouble is always lurking. When you combine all of the above in this list of ideals with classroom approaches that include small group projects, individualized attention, the workshop model, an every-student-participates philosophy, references to student interests and strengths, lessons of relevance, and a mindset from the teacher that emphasizes intrinsic over extrinsic motivation, there is a much greater chance that your classroom will be known as the class where students don’t misbehave and where students get a lot done.
Always ready your students—emotionally, physically, or psychologically—at the start of class, before launching into the task at hand. You can do this through some mind-clearing, kinesthetic, breathing, or otherwise decompressing activity or exercise. This is key for all transitions throughout the day—kids coming back in after recess, following lunch, after having PE, after a class down the hall whose teacher has poor classroom management skills, whatever the transition is. The concept of mindfulness, which for schools is about getting students calmed down from their hyper-activity or from anxiety or stress-elevating experiences, is one teachers should research and consider seriously if they are not versed in these tactics. There are tons of mindfulness sites, but the most important thing to know is that this is not about some new age, laissez faire approach to the modern classroom; it is as serious as it is thoughtful regarding the inner lives of the students and the means by which we teachers need to gain access at all junctures of the school to the best of these students’ minds and hearts.
Treat all assessments and tests as informational. This means that any grading going on will not just be a rubric or measurement of what the student knows or can do, but perhaps more importantly, grades should be seen as indicators – first and foremost they are indicators to the teacher on how he/she is getting the lesson across to the students; secondly, grades ought to be seen as a plan for that student’s pathway toward continued progress, even for students who score the 100%. These grades won’t have meaning for students or for parents unless the teacher translates them in to adjustments in teaching approach and/or in expectations for that student. The reason this is an ideal under the main topic of Discipline stems from the growing anxiety and stress in students associated with assessments and success in school. The more that teachers can adjust and tweak classroom approaches as a result of student performance, the more that students will see the value and the meaning in what the teacher is asking them to do.
Communicate with parents, ideally via a phone call or face-to-face meeting, when poor behavior becomes habitual. As vital as partnership with parents is to the success of their children at school, this ideal remains one of the most difficult to accomplish. It requires a great deal of professionalism on the teacher’s part; an ability to remain calm while the parent expresses frustration and begins lashing back at the school; and a willingness to impart suggestions for the parents when it comes to supporting school expectations with their children at home. Certainly teachers may need to pull an administrator into these meetings if there is any anticipation that the meeting will be a challenging one. Parent partnership is key to achieving the best classroom atmosphere possible.
Take a personable approach to holding kids accountable. Instead of kicking kids out of class, berating them in front of others, docking them in the gradebook without informing them, exhibiting publically your own outrage and anger, or humiliating them with a stern reprimand in front of the class, try the personal connection approach. When there is a disturbance or distraction, gently remind students the right behavior you are striving to see from everyone while moving forward promptly with the lesson; then, at the end of the class or lesson, arrange for a one-to-one with the student involved, which is when you will address the matter calmly, sensitively, yet firmly, communicating your disappointment and giving the student an opportunity to own up to the behavior. During the one-to-one, you’ll have the chance to discuss alternative behavior or to explore coping skills the student can use when feeling anxious or stressed. This is all easier said than done, but the prompt one-to-one will go so much farther (than other traditional punitive or point systems) in developing a better relationship with the student which is so key in turning behavior toward the positive.
Commit yourself to knowing the students and genuinely caring for them. I always say to teachers that the foundational mindset successful teachers have in common is that they know their kids and love them. To me, this mindset is an obligation if one wishes to stay in the teaching profession. Many of my colleagues typically regard the word “love” with skepticism—okay, I get the concern in this world of hyper sensitivity. I still believe in that approach, including the use of the word “love” in its humanitarian context.