I do not see as many unhelpful techniques from classroom teachers as I do from our specialist (gym teacher, art teacher, music, etc.). I have witnessed a few specialist teachers giving negative recognition in front of the whole class and threats about participation the next time they are with them. On the other hand, I consistently see classroom teachers bring students into the hallway away from preying eyes to talk about unwanted behavior. I, as well as my colleagues, use Class Dojo points for students meeting expectations which we establish through explicit instruction and written guidelines throughout the classroom and hallways. Our school follows the CHAMPS behavior expectations. CHAMPS stands for Conversation, Help, Activity, Movement, Participation and Success. Each activity throughout the school say has its variation of CHAMPS expectations. I see my colleagues giving positive recognition to individual and whole class. I work really hard at showing purposeful action. I tell me students I never make a promise that I cannot keep and I found that they trust me in that expectation. As a teacher and a leader in my school I would hope that I could lead by example and respectfully step in when I see student/teacher relationships moving negatively by showing my support and respect to both parties.
The least helpful technique for communicating expectations that I hear the most often in my school setting are threats:
“Jesse, if you hit someone again, you’re going to go to Dr. P’s office.”
“David, I have told you three times to sit still and listen. Next time, you’re going to sit in a quiet chair. Do you understand?”
I can hear my teachers saying these warnings, albeit they are being said often with a kind and quiet tone, however, I cringe every time because I know that these are very ineffective and make the teacher seem weak and lazy (Shindler, 2010) to the children. I know they mean well, and they are probably thinking that they are giving the child another chance with the warning (Shindler, 2010), but the same kids are getting numerous warnings day after day.
Instead, I would prefer them to use clarifying questions:
“Jesse, what should you be doing with your hands?”
“David, what is the best way we should be sitting in Circle Time?”
And positive recognition:
“It is wonderful when we remember to keep our hands to ourselves. Our friends will be happy about this too.”
“I am seeing people doing a good job sitting criss-cross applesauce with their hands in their lap to show me they are ready.”
As an administrator, I already use a lot of these when talking with children to help model this for my teachers. To expand on this, I plan to hold a professional development in-service to teach these methods when school gets out because it is extremely important for me that my teachers are using the correct communication techniques to build a positive and nurturing learning environment.
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