Sunday, April 17, 2011

Belief #4: Good discipline is a matter of good timing.

Just as there are “teachable moments,” there are also “correctable moments.” We believe that a key to good discipline is timing, and that the time to discipline is very early in the “chain of behavior” - before minor infractions become major ones. Our strategies describe in detail how to achieve good timing consistently and explain why this is important.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Belief #3: "Kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

John Wooden, working in conjunction with Madeline Hunter, said it first, and research, personal experience, and common sense all reiterate that students need to feel known, liked and respected before they can accept instruction. Another way of looking at it is that a classroom with positive feeling tone is a better learning environment than one that is negative. As the adult professional in the classroom you are responsible for establishing and maintaining this environment. That's why we present a strong, positive approach to discipline, an approach that allows for mutual respect. Our strategies are about students learning to take personal responsibility rather than about teachers punishing kids.

Our strategies focus on stopping low level, disruptive behaviors...not getting revenge on disruptive students. So, we will be talking about contingent and non-contingent interactions. Todd Whittaker said it well when he said, "You don't have to like the students; you just have to act as if you like them. If you don't act as if you like them, then it doesn't matter how much you like them. And if you act as if you like them, then whether you like them at all becomes irrelevant." That's why teachers and students using our strategies are liking themselves and each other more, even as kids are being held accountable for appropriate behavior and decision making.

Belief #2: Teachers are doing an incredible job.

Contemporary teachers are doing a better job than ever before, even as they face new and greater challenges. We are amazing people who are somehow able and willing to juggle an overwhelming number of tasks and still help kids learn. Not only do we teach; we also parent, nurse, counsel, and lobby for children, to name just a few of the roles from an ever-growing list of expectations placed on us. Carolyn Warner's “Litany” is the best list we have seen of some of the roles assigned to teachers over the past half-century.


Give specialized instruction for the hard of hearing, the blind, the developmentally disabled, the mentally challenged, and the gifted (and be politically correct while doing so); build respect for the worth and dignity of the individual; do eye testing; schedule inoculations; assist bladder control; maintain health records and age certification data; attend faculty department/grade meeting; attend professional workshops; work on an advanced degree; volunteer to supervise extra-curricular activities; participate in fund-raising; collect money to rebuild the Statue of Liberty; stress the prevention of drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse; promote physical fitness and good nutrition habits; eradicate head lice, scabies and other diseases; inculcate morals, ethics and values; maintain order and teach self-control; provide pregnancy counseling; monitor restrooms, playgrounds, hallways, parking lots, and the cafeteria; discourage food fights; breakup fist fights; pray that there are no knife fights; pray that there are no guns involved; develop individual and civic responsibility; promote ethnic and racial tolerance; eliminate gender bias and sex discrimination; develop an appreciation of other people and other cultures; protect civil rights; help develop political know-how; teach sex education and AIDS prevention; provide suicide counseling; give first aid instruction; train students in pulmonary-coronary resuscitation; teach the principles of free enterprise; teach management of money, property, and resources; assist in career planning; develop skills for entry into a specific field; teach etiquette and telephone manners; new job placement; serve hot breakfasts and lunches; dispense surplus milk; teach driver training; stress bicycle, automobile, and pedestrian safety; keep up with the latest educational trends and be ready to implement them; know the latest education “buzz” words; assist with bilingual language development; instruct in speed reading; encourage metric education; promote computer literacy; purchase enrichment materials with your own money; counsel students with small problems; counsel students with major problems; protect student privacy; communicate with parents; detect and report child abuse; follow due process procedure; unteach the 4 food groups; teach the pyramid and that broccoli is good; build patriotism and loyalty to the ideals of democracy; instill an understanding of our country's rich heritage; develop the ability to reason; encourage curiosity and a thirst for life-long heritage; develop the ability to reason; encourage curiosity and a thirst for life-long learning; develop skills in the use of leisure time; promote a feeling of self-worth; teach pride in work; avoid religion; collect, organize, aggregate and disseminate testing data; and teach reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Permission to reproduce given by Carolyn Warner, former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction

How many of us, upon revealing our profession to a new acquaintance, have heard, “They couldn't pay me enough to do what you do!” (and how many of us have wanted to reply, “They don't pay me enough, either”). When we encounter teacher bashing, we need to remember that most people are in awe of our courage and our abilities. We owe no one any apologies. We are doing an outstanding job under very difficult circumstances. This publication describes a set of strategies that is helping outstanding teachers do an even better job, helping struggling teachers find their groove, helping new teacher shine, and helping administrators provide a fun, safe and orderly environment for the children of their community... all while having more fun at the same time!

Belief #1: Times have changed.

Anyone who has been a teacher over the last few years is aware of the many ways in which life has changed for American kids. The past fifty years have brought rapid changes in family structure, in our knowledge base, in technology, in the media, in demographics, in political decision-making, in economic and class structures, in parenting and in pedagogy. The consequences of these are varied and complex.

Many outcomes of the change are positive. For example, most students in our century are light-years ahead of those in the sixties in terms of how much they know and what they can do. I think we would all agree that our students today in seventh grade are writing papers and designing projects far beyond anything that we did even in high school. Because formerly taboo subjects are being addressed, today's kids are also much better equipped to protect themselves from social ills like addiction, sexual abuse, racial discrimination, etc. And thanks to tremendous strides in pedagogy, their teachers can call on a wealth of research-based strategies to ensure that learning is really taking place.

Of course there is a debit side. For whatever reasons, from exposure to mass media to distractions by family problems, today's kids do not always pay attention as well as their grandparents did. Certainly, they are not always as compliant as their grandparents were in the classrooms of yesteryear, when teachers listed major problem behaviors as "talking out of turn, inappropriate noises, chewing gum in class, not putting paper in the waste basket, and running in the halls." Sadly, teachers of today have often identified their major concerns as "drug abuse, alcohol use, pregnancy, teen suicide, rape, robbery, assault, bullying, gang warfare, electronic distractions and guns in the classroom. Problems like these can create disruptive environments that threaten children's academic and social success. We believe that we must capitalize on the positive outcomes of change while doing everything possible to eliminate the negative ones. We further believe that maximum learning can take place only when students know how to pay attention and behave themselves and want to pay attention and behave themselves. Being The Best Teacher describes discipline strategies that are already fostering maximum learning in diverse classrooms across the country.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Our Beliefs

I am posting the basic beliefs we hold in classroom management. These will be expounded upon in future postings.

Belief #1: Times have changed.
Belief #2: Teachers are doing an incredible job.
Belief #3: "Kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
Belief #4: Good discipline is a matter of good timing.
Belief #5: Conflict is an essential part of growing up.
Belief #6: Parenting affects behavior.
Belief #7: We cannot use poor parenting as an excuse for not teaching.
Belief #8: Problem behavior can entrap us.
Belief #9: Curriculum comes first, but discipline does, too!
Belief #10: Self-esteem matters.
Belief #11: Students do not necessarily know how to behave.
Belief #12: Classroom rules and routines need to be systematically taught.
Belief #13: Teaching succeeds where punishment fails.
Belief #14: We need an effective consequence for low-level misbehavior.
Belief #15: Effective discipline strategies, properly taught, teach responsible behavior.
Belief #16: We can make a difference to every child.

Teachers have amazing power for good in the lives of children. We need to trust our own powers, to hone our already considerable skills, to give proven methods a chance, and to trust in our own abilities to teach and our students' abilities to learn. In the realm of discipline as well as in the realm of academics, truly it is Time To Teach!

Why "Time To Teach"?

Time, it has been said, is the coin of learning. Yet every teacher, and every student, has known the frustration of losing valuable instructional time to matters of discipline. For some teachers and students, the amount of time lost is very great. We will describe strategies proven to restore that lost time to teachers and students in a way that is simple, fair, and mutually respectful. We believe it can be effective for each of you in your unique situations. These postings will never take the place of quality training. However, you will find meaningful strategies to build upon as you monitor our contributions.