Chapter Six- Teacher Skills
Section one- Act Without Words
Often times we find that our students simply go through the motions when we are talking to them but, in fact, they are not actually hearing a word you are saying to them. In times like these, non-verbal cues will be much more effective. A hand on the shoulder, different hand signals for cues, clapping of hands, etc will get the attention and involvement of the child more effectively. Be sure that the hand signals are agreed upon and known by the students before using them.
Section Two- Do the Unexpected
Using humour, whispering instead of yelling, are very effective ways to knock down a sticky situation. This quick distraction is often enough to set the child’s mind back into the thinking brain and allow a conversation about what was going on in that moment. Knowing what the mistaken goal might be will help adults decide whether this technique will work.
Section Three- Limited Choices
Directing children may end up with rebellion on the part of the child, so it may be necessary to offer the child some choice. Although the task may not be negotiable, how it is done, where it is done and possibly even when it can be done may be possibilities that are given to the child. Giving these choices helps to build a child’s self-reliance, self-regulation, problem solving skills, etc. If the child does not like the options and gives an acceptable alternative, let them have it. If not, repeat their choices. It is possible that this strategy does not work in all situations with all types of students. It will be important to know and have a connection with the student before using this strategy.
Section Four- Logical Consequences
Have faith in your students- have faith that they will learn from their mistakes. In order to do this, we need to stop “I told you so” lectures, punishments and even rescuing. We also need to allow our students to make mistakes. But then we need to have faith. Validating their feelings, and asking if they need our support to determine the consequences for their mistakes are both important for the child to make thier choices. This format allows the students to learn from their mistakes, rather than the imposed punishments that make them feel shame and embarassment. Using the 3 Rs (Related, Respectful, Reasonable) and an H (Helpful) criteria, you can be assured that the consequence is appropriate and allows the student to assume responsibility for their actions.
Section Five-Have Faith
As said above, it is important to have faith in our students. We need to them to know that they can learn from their struggles, which helps them to build resillience. Do not resccue, fix or control the students, have faith and patience in their problem-solving abilities and offer the appropriate guidance, validating feelings and encouraging curiosity questions.
Section Six- Same Boat
Putting students in conflict into the same boat means not looking to blame, but looking for solutions to the problem tpgether. Some of the tools to support putting kids in the same boat include, giving choice, using the wheel of choice, positive time out, clcass meeting agenda, and problem-solving brainstorming.
Section Seven- Tone of Voice
Tone of voice- holy moly is this a difficult area for me!! I can definitely hear in my own child’s tone of voice a mirror of my own tone- if I am sarcastic or disrespectful in my own tone, I get it dished right back. When I talk with respect and kindness, I get that back as well. I know that when I am frustrated and stressed, I will often use a very harsh tone with my kids. This does absolutely nothing for improving the behaviour of my children- it usually ends up escalating the situation. It is yet another area in which I, as a parent, really needs to focus on.
Section Eight- Humor
“Humor can help shift students out of fight, flight, or freeze thinking.” (page 247)- How powerful is this! Simply doing something that a student finds funny can shift their thinking enough to get them out of the funk and will allow for them to begin using their thinking brain and opens new pathways of learning at the same time.
Section Nine- Decide What You Will Do
Including your students into the decision making process will help to minimize behaviours in the classroom, but there are times when deciding yourself on a consequence will be necessary or appropriate. At these times, it is important that you are kind AND firm, and follow through on your decision.
Section Ten- Don’t Back-Talk Back
This is probably the most difficult one for me! I am queen of back-talking back to my kids, which only leads to further disrespectful talk back from my boys. I really like the suggestions on page 257. I might need to write them on a sticky note and tote them around with me when I am at home! Searching for the hidden message behind the back-talk will be really important for me too- how are they feeling in the moment? Is there a need to recognition for all that they do to help out in the house? Are they feeling a need for connection and belonging? Take a breath Mom! Think about what is going on for me and help me through it! This will be my goal for the rest of the month of February. Don’t Back-Talk Back!
Section 11- Control Your Own Behaviour
Forgiveness of mistakes is often given more easily by students. When we behave in a way we are not proud of, it is important to apologize to our kids. This shows that we make mistakes too and that we can improve when we put our minds to it! We are often very critical of ourselves but we need to remember to take the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and to forgive ourselves, too. Reflecting on and reviewing the four Rs of Recovery and the Mistakes as Opportunities for Learning will help us to continually improve our own behaviours when we are in the moment. Learn with your students. There is no better way for them to learn than when we learn together!
Section 12- Teachers Helping Teachers
When teachers do not feel supported or have a colleague to help figure out what is going on in different tricky situations, this fourteen-step process would be a very handy tool to support them. From the looks of it though, it might take some time to build relationships close enough that they feel safe to share their own feelings to the group. Practicing with some safe colleagues first might help this process. I am very thankful that, at my school, we are a very close-knit staff who are really supportive of each other. We have problem solving sessions in the staffroom at lunch and recess and after school in our little groups. Our school is small enough that many of us know the majority of the kids very well and can support those teachers that are new or unsure of what to do.
Section 13- Self-Care
More and more we hear about how important self-care is. As teachers, with such busy schedules, it is even more important to take some time to think about ourselves and our health. Some great ideas for self-care include going for walks, having bubble baths, time with friends, time with a partner/spouse, reading a book for pleasure, exercising, doing hobbies, are just a few options. Doing things that make you feel good will help with your overall stress levels and health. Making a plan and sharing it with a friend will help you keep on your path. Enjoy yourself! You are worth it!
Are there any areas in which you feel you might require some extra support?
Do you have an area in which you feel you are rockin’ it?
Any advice for those of us who are struggling in the different areas?
Thank you all for participating in this book study! I really appreciate all of the conversation and support! I hope you are able to join us for Crosscurrents this year! As always, if you have any suggestions for reading material that would be beneficial for other teachers, please pass along the titles for us to check out!