Thursday, March 19, 2009

Career Moves

Chongo and Maia's kindergarten teacher once told me this story.

She was at a dinner with her business exec ex-husband. Someone asked her what she did.
"I'm a teacher."
"Oh, what grade do you teach?"
"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be able to move up."

I'm not sure which is harder to teach -- middle school or kindergarten. All I know is that both of those grade groups take a teacher who is particular to them. Otherwise it would be easy to give up the teaching thing. Most teachers of other grades say they'll teach anything but kindergarten or middle school. So I consider the teachers who prefer middle schoolers or kindergarteners as teachers who've chosen a specialty. Otherwise known as experts in their field.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A new strategy

I realized, only this morning, that there was a better way to handle the whiner I had in my class yesterday. Yesterday, I engaged him and his endless commenting.

The boy began the day complaining about his seating arrangement which was just under my nose at the front of the class. "Can I move seats, I don't like it here. People bother me here. Can I take my quiz next door so I can concentrate? " This concern lasted for the the first 10 minutes.

Another student was given permission to go to the bathroom. Mr. Talker begins "Can I get a drink? My throat hurts. Can I see the nurse? Please just a drink?"

They had to leave for an assembly and then return to get their backpacks, proof they had actually attended. "Can we take our backpacks with us? Please? Please? Why? Why not?"

I kept responding to him firmly and clearly, but he just seemed unable to stop the flow from his mouth. Today I realized that next time, I'm going to try ignoring him, except for when he raises his hand SILENTLY.

How do I know to try this? Maia was telling me about a show she has been watching called "Me or the Dog." It's a show about pets who are coming between a household relationship. In one episode, Maia saw the owner is told to turn her back when the dog tries to jump up on her. By not responding, she won't reward bad behavior with attention.

Hmmm. Maybe the talker in the front row needs a little less attention. Next time, I'm going to try a little dog training.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I was in the office of an elementary school the other day when the phone rang. It was a teacher calling to ask for help from the teacher specialist. Apparently one of her students was being defiant and refusing to remove his hat in the classroom.

The teacher specialist rolled her eyes and headed out the door. In only a few moments she returned. "He just got a buzz haircut yesterday," she informed us. "He didn't want anyone to see his hair."

"So what did you do?" asked another teacher.

"I asked to see his haircut, then told him he looked handsome. He wasn't defiant," she reported, "He was just embarrassed."

And what is the difference when a teacher can't get a student to remove his hat?