Kid Whisperer Nation Teacher Tip #166
USE A STATEMENT OF FACT AS AN INTERVENTION
How many times do you find yourself telling kids to do stuff? “Take out your work,” “Sit down,” and “Line up” all seem like perfectly fine things to say since these are things that kids need to do at school. There are many problems with saying these things, however. The one I will address here is that it implies that you don’t believe that the kids you are saying these things to are smart enough to figure them out themselves. Again, no judgement, but here is a replacement strategy: just state facts and let kids figure out what to do.
Instead of, “Pick that up!” you can say, “Oh. Someone’s book is still on the reading table.” Instead of, “Clean up your breakfast, Jenna!”, say, “Oh, no. Jenna, you still have your breakfast.” Instead of, “Stop talking so we can leave for lunch!” try, “Oh, dude. It’s lunch time.” These statements of facts imply that you have a high opinion of the kids’ intelligence and that you know that they will be compliant. Also, notice that I preface all statements of fact with an empathetic verbal cue. This way, even tough kids’ brains are likely to be able to process what is being said without a power struggle.
Kid Whisperer Nation Teacher Tip #167
SHUT IT DOWN
Don’t try to teach in chaos. From time to time, it may be necessary to retrain your class on procedures: being quiet to a prompt, lining up, sitting on a carpet for younger kids, being dismissed to the next class for older kids.
Kid Whisperer Nation Teacher Tip #168
TEACH FROM A “POWER ‘V’
Your most powerful positions in the classroom are behind the ears of your most difficult student. What this means is that when a student is looking forward, teaching at a 45 degree angle behind their ears allows you to see where they are looking, but it makes it difficult for them to see you seeing them. You can be so close you can put a hand on their shoulder (if appropriate) or you can be 20 feet away. In this way, your powerful teaching spots will form a “V” behind the student.
Of course, you should be moving and teaching from all over the room, but teaching from the “Power V” can make you a more effective teacher no matter what age students you teach.
Kid Whisperer Nation Teacher Tip #169
DON’T TELL KIDS TO WALK
When you tell a kid to walk when they are running down the hall but take no action, what a difficult kid hears is, “You are allowed to run. Please do it again next time.” You have reinforced the behavior of running in the hallway because the kid got from point A to point B faster than they otherwise would have, and you gave the behavior attention. Instead, preface with empathy and ask the kid to try walking again. Many teachers already do this: “Oh, man. Could you go back and try that again?” If the kid refuses and keeps running, simply find a time later to have that kid practice walking during a non-instructional time.
Kid Whisperer Nation Teacher Tip #170
EXPECT “THANK YOU” WITH YOUR FACE, TONE AND ACTIONS
We know that kids will almost never act with gratitude just because we lecture them into it. However, kids will respond to interventions and consequences. When I give something to a student (let’s use a marker in this example) I use interventions and a consequence to elicit thankful behavior. All of this takes almost no time.
FACE: When I hand something to a student, I look expectantly and smile. This does not exactly ask, “Aren’t you forgetting something?” Rather, it says, “I know that you will remember to say “Thank you”. There is a big difference between these two things.
TONE: Like the facial intervention, it models proper behavior and presumes politeness. It is done in conjunction with the facial expression.
ACTIONS (a quick consequence): I simply keep my hands on whatever object I am giving until “Thank you” is uttered by the student. If he doesn’t say “thank you,” I take the object back. He will get another chance to get what I was giving him later, at my convenience. I never change my facial expression, and I don’t say anything else.