December 2011 Archives

I couldn't have been more relieved when winter break arrived my first year as a teacher. Two weeks of R & R. No lessons to plan. No papers to grade. And most of all, no kids to clash with. My break got off to a blissful start. I slept late, worked out, and spent time with family and friends. But after a few days, I became preoccupied with one thought: each day that passed was one less day until I'd have to return to my chaotic classroom. My restful break had suddenly become a restless one. I wallowed in despair for ...


Great teachers maintain control of their classrooms. They do not, however, control their students. In fact, show me a teacher who tries to control students, and I'll show you a classroom that's out of control. One way many teachers try to control students is through disciplinary rules and punitive consequences for breaking those rules. Yet just as harmful as teachers' efforts to control students' behavior are their efforts to control students' thoughts. Some examples: The early childhood teacher who told a student to redo his drawing because "this looks nothing like an elephant." The science teacher who insisted on being ...


Like a lot of teachers, I believed at first that attention-seeking students needed attitude adjustments. So when kids acted out, I not only punished them but also preached to them about changing their attitudes. But nothing changed until I concluded that the best way to modify someone else's behavior is to modify your behavior. And the behavior of mine most in need of a change related to what I gave attention to and how I gave attention to it. In particular, I needed to start focusing my attention on constructive behavior at the expense of disruptive behavior rather than the ...


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