Chapter 3 is all about how to form positive relationships with students in order to help support them through their difficult behavioural requirements. For some of us, this all seems like common sense, but we all need reminders, especially when it comes down to dealing with the difficult behaviours of children.
Connection Before Correction- This reminds us that weneed to help our children feel that they belong before we can begin to correct their behaviours. A high five, fist bump or hug lets a student know that they are cared for. When a child knows that you actually do care about them, they will try to rise to the occasion wanting you to feel proud of them. There was a student with whom I worked quite extensively when he was in grades 1 and 2. He would regularly lose his cool and become quite aggressive towards other children and adults in the building. I was no exception. He would regularly throw shoes or hit me with his coat and backpack. Time and time again I would remind him that I was there to help him. I would give him hugs when he was down, listen when he needed to yell about how he was feeling and sit with him during his melt-downs. We would often talk to each other when he was in a good mood about his day, his plans for the weekend, a new video game he was interested in, or whatever else he wanted to talk about. Gradually, his behaviours began to change. He is now a grade 6 student. He will still come tome for the occasional hug, or walk around the school just to talk before school or at recess when I am on supervision. His behaviours are all under his control now. He has developed appropriate strategies to help him through his frustrations and every now and then, he will look back on his days as a grade 1 and 2 student and remember just how difficult life was for him at that time. But he knows that there are people who care about him, even on his worst days, and that makes me smile.
Greetings- Everyone knows how important a greeting is to making someone feel wanted and special! This is one of my favourite things to do when I am on morning supervision. I try to greet every student I see before school begins by their name. If there is time, we will also have a brief conversation about how they are doing at that time. I am fortunate to have a wonderful memory for names and know almost every student in my school’s names. It definitely makes them feel welcome! My school begins at Grade 1- the Kindergarten students transition from a different school- and this year, I knew the names of all the boys, as I have a son a year younger than them, so have gottent to know some of them as part of his peer group, but I hardly knew any of the girls names. Every Wednesday and Friday mornings, I would focus on learning the names of the Grade 1 girls as they got off the bus. There were 2 that I just could not seem to get right the first few times I saw them. The day I got one of their names correct I got the hugest smile and a “You remembered!” from the little girl. I knew that I had made her day, just by remembering her name.
Special Time- Even just a couple of minutes talking with or touching base with a student can mean all the difference to them. Since I am not an enrolling classroom teacher, this looks a little different for me. Making special time for my students may mean a conversation in the hallway on our way to or from their regular classroom, a quick story before we begin out work together, or a conversation in the school yeard about how their team did in hocky that weekend, or how their dance competition. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it does make a huge difference.
Validate Feelings- This is an area in which I struggle huge. Children need encouragement and to feel that they are being heard. As adults, it is our job to listen to them and empathize, not accuse them for making us feel a certain way. When dealing with my youngest son, I find myself often trying to listen and validate their feelings but instead making them feel worse by saying that his behaviours/actions make me feel frustrated-this is not what he needs to hear, nor is it helpful. At this time, he needs to know that his feelings are valid and acknowledged and he needs someone to help him move past the difficult situation.
Listen- Ok, so apparently I also struggle with listening as well! This section makes total sense- If I want someone to listen to me, I need to listen to them as well! My oldest son often says to me “No, Mom! You aren’t listening to me!” and I know that he is right, so how can I expect him to listen to me? I need to be a much better role model of listening- this will be a good goal for me- active listening to understand, not to respond or preach! I will try to remember to let you know how I do!
Curiosity Questions: Motivational- These types of questions help us to avoid power struggles. They encourage students to think about what they could be doing instead of telling them directly. When I tell my son to get ready for bed, he always says “NO!” Maybe I should be asking him what he could do to show me he is ready for stories and bed instead- he can’t respond with the word no in this situation!
Curiosity Questions: Conversational- It seems to me that using Conversational Curiosity Questions comes in handy when working through a problem and looking for a solution or end result. I would love to try this as a type of conflict resolution between my children when they get into it at home.
I have really enjoyed how this chapter has encouraged me to reflect on my own behaviours and how they impact my relationships with my own children and my students. I can see some areas in which I feel quite strong (greetings, special time, and at times, connecting before correcting) and other areas in which I definitely need to refine my skills (Listen, Validate Feelings and Curiosity Questions).
- I encourage you all to reflect on yourselves in these areas. Are there areas in which you may need improvement? Are there areas in which you are “rocking it!”? What are some ways in which you might improve your ability to relate to and support your students?
- How do you connect with your students, letting them know that you really do care about them?