The recent shooting at an elementary school in Townville, SC is a sober reminder for anyone with a career in education.
Teachers at the school risked their lives to save their students, including one who was shot (not killed) getting children to safety.
While you may have the "that kind of thing will never happen around here" attitude about it, the reality is that tragedy can happen anywhere. Even though the odds of anything every happening may be low, the possibility is still part of the job. Teachers and administrators would be wise to be prepared for the worst of the worst.
Hopefully nothing terrible will ever happen at your school. If it does, though, be prepared to do what you have to do to protect your students.
I recently received the following question:
How do I respond to an administration that sees the rules that are stated with "No" at the start as too negative?
Thank you for your question. This is an interesting one, and a tricky answer.
My first response is to tell them to read this:
The trend these days seems to be to try to avoid anything negative whatsoever when it comes to classroom management and child raising. Shoot, even the phrase "classroom management" is attacked for sounding too harsh. I think we are getting a little carried away.
The key, I think, is to remember why teachers and parents have rules in the first place. Hopefuly the reason is not just to be negative or wield some kind of power over their kids. The reason we have rules (and thus consequences) should be to protect and sometimes teach children. That's it.
Rules by nature are going to have some element of negativity to them. There is no getting around that. They are preventing people from doing something that they would like to do. The key to their validity is in the motives. If the teacher or parent's motives are to do what is best for the child, then a little negativity won't kill them. Negativity is, in fact, necessary. So, let's not try to sterilize our children's worlds so much that even a hint of anything negative must be removed. That is a good way to raise a generation of soft, unprepared for reality, spoiled brats (or Willy Wonka kids as I call them).
Now, if your administration reads those words and still wants to forbid any negatively phrased rules in your district, don't forget that they are your boss. What they say goes. Reword your rules to try to send the same message without the "nos" in there. And you might want to start looking for a place to work where the people in charge have a little more wisdom and common sense.
Question of the week: What do you think about negatively phrased rules? Does it really make that much of a difference to sugar coat the wording? Share your answers in the comment section. I want to hear from you!
Doug (The Discipline Dr)
I received the following question from an educator in Brooklyn, NY in response to my blog post about my Tip #41: Sweat the Small Stuff.
What is the importance of sweating the small stuff? What are some scenarios in grades K-2 and 3-5 that would be sweating the small stuff?
Thank you for your question. As I said in my original post, I think some teachers take the approach to only be concerned with "big" kinds of misbehavior. In other words, one might say something like "as long as they aren't killing each other, I am happy." I think this mindset is a mistake. Sure, there is something to be said for avoiding catastrophe. But to stop there is kind of a lame goal to have. Let's be a little more ambitious than that.
There are two main benefits of sweating the small stuff:
1) When students see that you won't allow less serious kinds of misbehavior, they will really think twice about doing anything more dramatic. There is something about setting the tone that you won't allow the little things that makes the thought of doing something bigger unimaginable for students, or at least like less of a good idea.
2) Sweating the small stuff allows you to teach things like manners and social skills. I am a big believer in the side lessons that students can learn at school. Teachers should be concerned about more than just helping their students make a grade on a state test. Things like manners and social skills are about more than just making your students "good" boys and girls. Those things are valuable life skills as well.
So, what does the small stuff include for younger students? It can be anything that would be considered manners and social skills. Here are a few possibilities:
*saying please and thank you
*not insulting/being mean to another student
*not talking/interrupting when the teacher is talking
*not telling another student to "shut up"
*not putting your hands on people
*picking something up when someone near you drops it
*(boys) being nice to girls
*cleaning up after yourself
I am sure you can think of many more of your own. Hopefully this list is enough to give you the idea.
Just remember, when you are sweating the "small stuff", make sure you handle it like it is small stuff. That means you aren't blowing your top getting an attitude about it. The younger your students are, the more you should handle discipline with correction and repetition of the right behavior. It doesn't take some kind of elaborate discipline system.
I hope that helps!
Question of the week: What kinds of small stuff do you teach? What kind would you like to teach better? Don't keep your wisdom to yourself. Comment below!
If you are a teacher, there are a lot of things that can cause stress for you: misbehaving students, cranky parents, having to get up early, etc. etc. Those things come with the job and often cannot be avoided. Yes, you can come up with strategies to minimize those issues, but there is really no controlling them completely.
You are much better off dealing with things you can control. This brings me to my thought for today:
Lower your stress by changing your mindset
Your mindset is the "why" you got into teaching and why you do what you do. Did you want to change the world? Make a difference in at least one life? Have your summers off? Whatever your reason, it is a good idea to have that thought in the front of your mind on a daily basis.
Hopefully you chose teaching as your profession because you like helping people. This should be your number one "why" in my opinion. If you start each day reminding yourself that everything you do is to help, serve, and love your students, a lot of things that cause you stress will fall away. Instead of seeing students as a bother or as a barrier to your happiness, try to remember your purpose. Focusing on the good you do will get your mind right.
Question of the week: What things do you do to lower your stress? I want to hear from you! Comment below.
Most teachers are fortunate enough to have some free time during the day. For some there is an official planning period, while others may just send their students to music or some other class and get a break.
Whether you have 30 minutes or two hours, the way that you use your free time is crucial. In fact, I believe that the key to being at your best, lowering your stress, and maximizing your overall success all depends on what you do with your free moments.
My own time efficiency has grown almost exponentially from the time I started my career in education. In my early days, I can remember blowing my entire allotment of free time on some days reading about sports, chatting with coworkers, and just downright daydreaming. No more.
I have since realized that time is valuable. I have a choice about every free minute that I have on a given day. I can use it wisely or unwisely. I now try to be aware of every minute that I spend and get as close to maximum efficiency as possible. This will not only help me to get more done, but it will also free up more time for doing other things that I want to do outside of teaching.
So, even if you want to use your free time to relax or take a break, at least be aware of how you are spending it. Those things can be valuable too. Just realize that every minute wasted may have to be made up later. Use that time wisely. It's valuable.
The Discipline Dr
Let's go. I want to see some comments. Tell me what you like, don't like, or just make a random comment. I want to hear from you!
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