Saturday, September 10, 2011

I have been thinking about something for a few days so I thought I would write about it just to get my thoughts down.
When I make a mistake and am reprimanded I feel awful. I am talking about a mistake, not something done intentionally to hurt or anger someone or something. I can't concentrate on anything else but the reprimand. Negative thoughts and self talk swirl around in my head and I can forget about concentrating on anything else. Also, it takes me a long time before I feel normal around the person giving the reprimand.
A friend of mine was reprimanded in a very unprofessional way the other day. She had not done anything wrong but was being blamed for something because she was around to take the blame. The person doing the reprimanding did not think about her own reaction to the situation, it was clear that she was angry, embarrassed, and probably felt vulnerable. She yelled, pointed her finger, belittled, and bullied my friend with out any regard to the truth of the situation, the bystanders listening, my friends feelings or the employee/employer relationship. Basically she trampled all over my friend's dignity.
Can anyone guess what the outcome was? Well, if I were in my friends shoes I would have done all of the things I mentioned above because that is how my personality works. My friend, however, does not let anyone walk all over her and she (fortunately in private) gave it back to her boss. She had to try to repair her dignity. That is how we humans work.
This incident makes me think of my students. As a human I get stressed, I think about several things at once, multitask, and want perfection. All of these traits can easily cause me to react without thinking in the event of a mistake made by a student. I will be the first to admit that I have not always reacted well to student mistakes like breaking something, making a mess, hitting another student, or whatever it may have been. I have always known that a big negative reaction from me will lead to a big negative reaction from my students but I have not always had the ability to control myself enough to not lash out verbally or by giving every consequence I could think of. Does "change your color, I am calling your mother, you will not have recess and put your head down" sound familiar to anyone. (Wow I am ashamed to even write those things down.) Everyone of those consequences is negative and does not actually teach behavior or thought change. It may have made me feel better in the moment but I think it had little effect on the behavior. In fact I know that is true because those behaviors that "needed" those consequences did not go away so each day I would find myself doleing them out day after day after day.
I am reminded of a wonderful professor that I had, Dr. Bruno, who taught me to stop and look for the cause of a behavior instead of the symptom. When I do this my emotions are not involved and usually I can correct the mistake by teaching the student how to deal with or change the problem.
I am so blessed to have discovered the brilliance of Whole Brain Teaching. Instead of spending my day policing my students and getting them back for not falling in line, I teach. I use the score board to help my students monitor their own behavior. They know my rules well and take it to heart when I remind them of rule 4 (make smart choices). They put their finger to their head and mouth the rule and then nod at like they understand that their previous choice was not smart and that next time will be different. Since I have been using this system, instead of having students change their color for every infraction I simply remind them of the rules and mark a sad face on the scoreboard. This helps them see that their behavior is not appropriate and needs to change. (Alternately when they make good choices they get a smiley.)  I have not had to raise my voice or resort to any of the consequences I mentioned earlier. This is what I know - the change is not in the students, the change is in me. I control how I react by putting myself in their shoes. I would not want to be embarrassed, out casted, told I was "bad", or to think I was not liked. I would rather know what I have done wrong and how I can do better in the future. That is how I want to be treated and how I would treat an adult. Why would I treat my students differently?
Holy moley does this work!                 

Whole Brain Teaching
Five Rules

1 comment:

  1. LOVE Whole Brain Teaching! It's free and some of the best classroom management strategies I have every seen. I have been using parts of it for the last 3 years. Thanks for sharing your success with it!