Kid Whisperer Nation Teacher Tip #51
“REWARD” YOUR STUDENTS WITH “REAL LIFE” REWARDS (AND NOTHING ELSE)
This is only possible with careful planning to make your classroom a place that resembles the real world. I NEVER give “rewards” like toys, candy, or stickers for students exhibiting behaviors that they should be exhibiting. However, when kids get done with their work during “Real World Workshop”, they get to do something that is more fun, like play a math game or read a magazine. That’s the way the real world works: when we are done with work, we can do activities that we’d rather do. This reinforces the positive behavior of working hard. When a student in my room has a classroom job, he gets to keep it until he forgets to do it or does it poorly. If he fails, he is fired, just like in real life. Is it an important life lesson to learn that you can keep jobs that you enjoy as long as you do a good job? I think so too.
Kid Whisperer Nation Teacher Tip #52
ARGUE WITH YOUR STUDENTS FOR FUN
Of course, kids LOVE to argue, which is why we NEVER argue with children about anything that matters in any way. However, during non-instructional times, when all is well (students in seats, voices at appropriate levels, eating breakfast or lunch), try initiating arguments about common interests regarding subjects of mutual interest. Sports, politics, and music generally lend themselves well to these arguments. Since kids love to argue, they will notice that when all is well, you are willing to have emotional, and/or silly arguments with them about things that don’t really matter in your school day. I remember on ongoing argument with one of my 1st graders that involved my NFL team (Eagles) and his (Cowboys) that lasted all year and was a great way to build my relationship with him.
Kid Whisperer Nation Teacher Tip #53
GIVE KIDS NICKNAMES
Nothing makes a kid feel more included than being given a nickname. The feeling of ownership in a kid’s room and school goes up when she is no longer Daisha, but instead: Princess Giggles. Keep in mind that the most difficult kids in your classroom usually have very bad feelings attached to their real first names since their parents and teachers have been using that name to yell at them for “x” amount of years. Removing those bad connotations by the use of a nickname can allow a kid to create something of a new identity for herself: ‘“Autumn” is bad, but ‘Red’ is awesome!”
Kid Whisperer Nation Teacher Tip #54
MODEL FEELING THE FEELINGS YOU WANT THEM TO FEEL
Most kids (at least the ones I’ve dealt with) don’t tend to naturally want to do what you tell them to do, but kids will usually start to feel the feelings you feel if you model and express the healthy emotions that you are feeling. When something happens that you don’t like, telling kids that it makes you feel sad is a great way to model feeling sadness instead of anger over something not going your way. With enough repetitions of the use of this skill, many kids will start to actually exhibit these healthy emotions instead of feeling and acting on anger.
Kid Whisperer Nation Teacher Tip #55
MODEL PROPER STRATEGIES FOR DEALING WITH ANGER
We all get angry. The difference between a person who gets angry and goes about his day and the person who gets angry and goes to jail is whether or not that person is able to mitigate his anger. Many kids are not exposed to people who can feel anger and move on, so modeling this can be really important.
“What just happened makes me angry. I’ve found that it’s not helpful to deal with things that make you angry right away so I’m going to deal with this later… I’m starting to feel better already.”
Of course, the more calmly you can say these words, the better.
Some kids will not know that working through anger in this way is even an option until they see you modeling this behavior.