Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wait Until ...

... you get next year's kids.  This is one of the most loathsome comments never spoken with a positive connotation, and within earshot of the denigrated children. Do we have challenging students?  Sure we do.  Do we have challenging behaviors?  Sure we do.  Do we have challenging days?  Sure we do.  But let's stop and think about what this comment is really saying.

It could be that the grade we are teaching is not well suited for us.  I struggled the first two (separate) years I taught third grade...but have since grown accustomed to it and have made changes to meet their developmental needs.  I know that I am better suited to upper elementary students, but I continuously tweak my teaching because they are what's important right now.  

Often times, those challenging students/behaviors are really our fault.  We can (un)intentionally set kids off by engaging in a power struggle with them.  Which is silly because it just makes us look ridiculous.  We should (try to) remain calm when handling situations/incidents in the classroom.  The children are constantly watching us, to see what we will do, to see what they should do if they are ever in that situation. 

Sometimes we let a misbehavior go on too long before addressing it.  This is a tricky one.  Because there's a fine line between redirecting or reminding a child before misbehavior gets out of hand and providing a child with the opportunity to self-correct their own misbehavior. 

We need to believe that students are capable of change.  When we have a fixed mindset that children will always be 'bad', we are pigeonholing them and thus creating that exact thing.  However, when we have a growth mindset and believe that children will grow and learn from their mistakes, we are shaping behaviors and changing lives.  

Sometimes we say things like this because we are frustrated.  But...if we are frustrated and need help then we just need to say so.  First, it is never okay to speak unkindly about a person and/or group.  Regardless of age.  Stop and think.  We would demand our students do that.  Second, 'say what you mean and mean what you say'.  If we practice this, then our students will.  Third, its good for children to see that we don't have all the answers, and that we seek answers.

It's time to turn this negative comment into a positive, "Wait until next year's class!  They are creative and persistent."  Focus on the positive traits...and they will grow.  It's time to become allies and stop these negative comments in their tracks.  Let colleagues know that negative comments about children will not be entertained, and the less they will be uttered.  Its important that the adults behave the way in which the children are expected to behave.