Wednesday, February 05, 2014

More Calm Please!

Yesterday and today, the students at school have been extra squarely and frankly just loud. The other day in gym class, I was helping the students get their coats and boots on, and the strong-willed student (you can read more about him here) started chasing after one of the other students. He grabbed this student by the back of his coat which was hanging off this student's head. The whole thing went down in slow motion. The student fell down following the momentum of his head which was being pulled down by his hood. The defiant student started to tackle him.

I went into Wonder Woman / aggressive mom mode as I took big sweeping steps over to the attacker, picked him up by his armpits, looked at him with huge, pulsing eyes and said "No! that is not safe." The student could sense my furry and said to me very loudly and clearly, "You're not going to hit me."
     "No, I'm not. I don't hit kids," I replied. "But you cannot pull people down by hoods of their coats. It is not safe. You could have hurt him."
That was probably too many words for the student to digest, but at the time, I didn't know what to say, and I wanted the student to feel how serious this situation was.

Later, this same student came up to me and said, "Your face looked, looked. . . red."
     "Yes, I was very worried and upset because I thought someone was going to get hurt."
The student looked up at me and said, "You're a good teacher, right?"
     "I hope so," I responded, not sure exactly what he meant but assuming it had something to do with the fact that I don't hit kids.

But recently, I have not felt like a very good teacher. I have gotten angry and lost my patience; my red face is a testament to that. I don't want to be a red-faced, tight-fisted teacher. I don't want to be that person who yells at students and gets annoyed when they simply do things that 5 and 6 year olds do.

I am looking for more tools to help me build my patience and my ability to relate to these younger students. I checked out a book called Calmer, Easier, Happier, Parenting. (No--I'm not expecting, but I liked those adjectives and figured the book could apply to teaching as well.

Some of the tips I have gotten so far include
      1. Descriptive praise--using specific, true, and motivating words to praise your student.
      2.  Using "think-throughs to help children remember rules and expectations and take them seriously.
      (Use leading questions to have the student / child tell you the expectation.)
      3.  Reflective listening--"Imagine what your child is feeling, and reflect that back to your child in              words."  (Noel Janis-Norton)

The next chapter is called "How to Stop Misbehavior in Its Tracks." I kind of feel like I need to just stay home today and read this chapter.


Carol said...

I love this post! I think you did a good job considering the urgency of the situation and how fast you had to act! I don't think you're a "red-face, tight-fisted" teacher at all. Disciplining in a healthy and constructive (also non violent) way is never fun for either party involved.

Portia Strasser said...

Thanks Caro! You are such a cheerleader.