Okay, people! I’ve been waiting for this chapter! If you’ve missed any other chapters, check them out here:
Here’s why I’ve been waiting for THIS chapter:
It’s titled . . . SOLVING PROBLEM BEHAVIOR.
😳 DUN DUN DUN!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Last year was one of my most difficult years ever in the classroom. To say I had students with problem behaviors is an understatement. The words problem behavior are just not enough to explain what I was dealing with last year. The words are not even adequate.
Before the chapter even really got going, I was like YES! IT IS SPEAKING TO ME!
I’m guilty of taking problem behavior personally. How about you? I get frustrated, I wonder how in the world they don’t like me, our class, the fun activity I planned, etc. Again, my mantra is DON’T LET THEIR BEHAVIOR AFFECT MY BEHAVIOR so obviously, I need to keep repeating that and practicing that.
Checking the Foundations of Good Behavior
Remember to REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW. As the year goes by, we can sometimes become a little lax in our routines and procedures. And by we, I mean ME.
Honestly, there are days when we are lining up for lunch, and I’m either hungry, or I really feel the need for a break, or my feet hurt, or I need to make a phone call, or obviously I really need to go to the bathroom, and I will just not care about how quiet or straight my lines are.
I said it and it’s true.
My only goal is to get those little hoodlums OUT of my room. 😜
But when that happens, I almost inevitably see a back-slide in ALL other areas of our classroom, and I regret it almost instantly. Because after I’ve eaten, used the restroom, talked to a friend, and checked over a math quiz or what-have-you, I’m ready to hit the ground running. And meanwhile, my kids pretty much think I don’t care about our lines or how quiet we are so they actually dance, spin, and cartwheel (some do absolutely nothing as if I’d never even spoken) their way to the carpet.
And meanwhile, I’m thinking WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!
But it was me. It’s me.
Again. REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW.
All the year long.
This chapter went into GREAT DETAIL about how to have an effective problem-solving conference with a student. There are TEN STEPS listed on how to do this on pages 101 – 103.
In first grade, I don’t feel like I need to have a 10-15 minute conference with a student. The example given for a kindergarten classroom explained that the teacher holds a SIMPLE, ONE on ONE conversation. That’s what I do, and I think it works well. Limit the teacher talk. You know they’re tuning you out anyway. Get to the bottom of the problem – ask the student what they could do next time instead.
I think the biggest thing for me to remember is to LISTEN to my kids. They have a voice, most of the time they know what they want to say (even if it’s a long, convoluted route that could have taken a minute 😂), and they feel connected to me when they get the chance to explain themselves.
Individual Written Agreements
So . . . is it just me or is Individual Written Agreements a Behavior Contract? Because that’s what it sounded like to me as I was reading. However, because Teaching Self Discipline is all about the positive, I’m thinking the term Behavior Contract has negative connotations which means I’ll need to let my school and the appropriate personnel know. HA!!!
I honestly don’t even ever feel the need for a
Behavior Contract Individual Written Agreements. Most likely, if I dig way deep down inside, it’s because I don’t want to take the time. 🤷🏼♀️
Instead, I use my time to build a really good relationship with that child, and I just MAKE IT WORK. Shoulder shrug. I’m not patting myself on the back for this. I’m just honestly telling you that I will get students who were on Individual Written Agreements in Kindergarten, and I do NOT continue using it.
If you’ve been watching our FB Lives (or catching the replays) then you’ve heard me say that I use Gold Tags in my classroom. It’s my behavior management system and, for me, it works! It has worked with every kid, every class, every time. It eliminates the need for Individual Written Agreements.
The closest I’ve ever come to using an Individual Written Agreement (good grief, writing that whole thing out is killing me so heretofore we will call Individual Written Agreements IWA’s.) . . . the closest I’ve ever come to using an IWA is telling a kid that they can have a playground ball at each recess if BLAH BLAH.
You know the whole . . . IF/THEN thing . . .
IF you stay on task and finish this half of the assignment, THEN you can take a playground ball to recess.
IF you keep your hands to yourself at recess, THEN you can have five minutes of computer time.
Well . . . at our school, each class is allowed to take out two playground balls. This isn’t a fast and hard rule, though, and no one is checking. The reason behind it is that if every class took out ten playground balls, there would be balls flying all over the place . . . 😂
So, anyways, in the past (LAST YEAR, specifically, but also other years, as well) I just allow that student a THIRD playground ball. I explain it to the rest of my class so that no one’s feelings are hurt. First graders will be on board with anything if you spin it the right way – as in “will you please help me with this situation, I’m sure you’ve noticed, I thought we could . . . “
I get together with that student, we go over the IWA, and then throughout each section of our day, I’ll just give a gentle reminder, such as Do you still want to take the ball out to recess? and then that student gets back on task, or whatever it is we agreed to. Works like a charm, I’m telling you!!
Well, let me tell you.
As soon as it said to plan about a HALF AN HOUR, I was like . . . can I just skip this section? 😳 But never fear . . .
The authors understand that primary students may need a MODIFIED class meeting format.
It’s realistic for the little guys AND ME. And when I read the word MODIFIED, I just instantly decided that meant a MODIFIED time, as well. I would never expect my kids to sit on the carpet for a lesson that lasted about a half an hour (unless it involved different activities, movement, a dance of some sort, partner talk, and group work) so same with a class meeting.
I think I tend to have impromptu class meetings where I have done absolutely zero planning ahead of time and it’s happening because of a problem on the playground, or within our class (read: GIRL DRAMA, HANDBALL DRAMA, or BASKETBALL DRAMA – all real life examples from last year).
I used to be TERRIBLE about talking to the WHOLE class when it didn’t involve the WHOLE class.
I don’t do that anymore. Unless it’s really a WHOLE class thing, I talk to the individuals necessary.
When I was little, I was shy, quiet, never ever ever got into any trouble of any kind whatsoever, and I just always think of my childhood self in my own classroom. Why should she have to hear all this talk about basketball is not a contact sport, the supervisors will not let you play anymore if you keep playing so rough, I’ll have to take away the basketball when she doesn’t even know where the basketball court is located? When she sits in the shade with her nose in a book?
There are nine steps about how to hold a class meeting if you want to read it in detail on pages 107-109.
I also think Class Meetings can be a positive way to start the day and HAVE NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH PROBLEM BEHAVIOR AT ALL.
Isn’t that the new thing? Building a classroom community through Class Meetings?
I didn’t get too much out of this section of the chapter, if I’m being completely honest. And I am being completely honest.
But look what Christina created for us to use IN PLACE OF A MEETING (or at the end of a meeting)!
Grab it HERE!
Talking to Parents about Problem Behavior
I pride myself on having positive relationships with my parents. I am not at all ashamed to tell you that I WANT the parents to like me. I DO! Getting them to like me means they will trust me, they will support me, and they will encourage me!
It goes both ways! The parents want me to like their CHILD! They want me to LOVE their child. They’re putting their child into my hands ALL THE LIVELONG DAY. I can’t imagine what they must be thinking that first day of school when they have no clue who I am, what I’m about, and why I do things the way I do. GAH!
I send a welcome letter before school even starts. A couple of weeks in, I email each parent just to say hi and how I think their child is adjusting. It’s just a couple of sentences – I’m not spending all day writing a novel about each student.
I also talk to parents at the gate during dismissal.
I am AVAILABLE. That’s not to say I don’t have a life. I do! I have things to do! One of them is BLOGGING, don’t ya know! ☺️But I make myself available because this is THEIR HUMAN CHILD THAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.
Then . . . if a time arises in which I need to talk to a parent about a problem behavior, we are on equal footing. They like me, they know I love their child, they know I want what’s best for the entire classroom, and I am careful with my APPROACH.
It’s not WHAT you say. It’s HOW you say it.
Should I say YOUR KID IS DRIVING THE OTHER KIDS CRAZY?
Could I say So and So is struggling to stay on task at their table group . . .
I tend to ask for help. I’m not perfect. I’m human, too. So I’ll ask could you please talk to So and So about how it’s distracting others? Or I might say I was thinking of offering a playground ball if blah blah blah . . . what do you think?
I’m telling you – WE ARE A TEAM. The parents, the child, and ME! We are a team. I don’t have to do it all by myself.
And neither do you!
Goodness gracious – thank goodness I have two weeks of summer left because now I am exhausted just thinking about all this!!
Haha!! How about you?