Friday, December 9, 2011

Year 2: Week 14-Positive Capital

“Y’know, I ask this particular students to be quiet when we’re walking in a line and then he’s quiet for like a minute and the he starts talking again and I tell him to be quiet again. This seems to happen every day.”

One of my teaching colleagues told me about this student she was working with and her issues as you can see above with getting a student to follow directions. What I told her had to do as much with what she was doing but also what she wasn’t.

Being told to do a correct a behavior repeatedly is like being yelled at constantly. It’s really easy to tune it out. How do you get someone to really listen to? You talk really quietly and vary your tone and loudness. The same goes for positive and negative interactions. If the only interactions you have a student are negative he or she eventually tune it out. If you hear mostly positive things through interactions with people and then once a while a negative comment is said, it has a much deeper impact.

Positive interactions with students are like money in the bank. If you want to really have an effective conversation about correcting a behavior, it takes some positive interaction capital. My rule of thumb is that for every one negative interaction, I got have five good ones. What’s tricky here is that these positive interactions can’t be phony. They have to be real.

Often the students who get the most negative reactions from adults are not as likable as other students. Well, that just means you have to work harder to find something about that student that you like. And if you can’t after talking to that kid for 5 minutes then you hang out with that kid everyday as much as possible until you find something about that kid that you genuinely like.

This can get really hard, but if you really want your interactions to mean something to your students they need to feel that you like them and that responsibility is on the teacher, not the students.

And yes, teachers do like some students better than others. We’re human, but where the professional challenge starts is being able look past this and focus not on what the students is doing but he or she can do to be a positive member of the classroom community.

I believe that every student has something to contribute and wants to be a positive parts of the community. This may not be true, but if I doubt that at all, then it leads to giving up on students which is a road teachers should never go down.

Difficult students are a fact of life for teachers and you may think that if that kid wasn’t there the class would be SO much easier to teach. The funny thing is sometimes when that students is absent, some other students take his or her spot as the annoying student.  But sometimes there is a moment when that student isn't in class and even though the class is easier to teach you miss him or her.  If you get that place with that difficult kid in your life, then you really are doing your job as a teacher.

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