The Honeymoon is Over?!
By now, you may be noticing some behaviors starting to settle in…some good, some on the not-so-good or challenging side. Here are some strategies for meaningful participation, transition Inclusion-to-Influence stage, and useful classroom management practice.
Setting an expectation (behavior, achievement), asking a question, or stating the desired outcome before the lesson, strategy, or activity can be just as effective as reflecting at the end. The more you (and your students) reflect, the more you learn. Reflection is the difference between good teaching and real learning. Remember to ask content/academic, collaborative/social, and personal feeling/emotional questions for every learning experience.
I-Messages (Snowball I-Messages p. 336)
The sooner you teach your students, and model I-messages yourself, the sooner you can set that positive expectation that an I-message is part of the communication when there is conflict, misunderstanding, or need for a specific behavior to start or stop. Use characters in literature, role-playing, and/or have students watch a sitcom segment and insert I-messages for some good practice.
Paraphrase Passport (p. 302)
Not only does this strategy promote attentive listening, it also supports understanding and tolerance when students paraphrase different views or opinions. Even teachers may come to understand their students better with a little paraphrase passport?!
What We Need From Each Other (from Discovering Gifts in Middle School)
At the end of one of those days…pre-plan for the next episode with a bit of communication and negotiation. Small steps at first, and then more long-term (weekly) goals can be put forth.
Something Good (p. 337 )
Use this strategy at the end of a bad day, class, week, etc. This strategy can also be a “ticket out the door”, in written form…maybe as an informal evaluation…sort of a “how am I doing?” check in with your students. Ask students to write something good about your teaching style, classroom practices (including management) or the topic that day.
Suggestion Circle (p. 344)
You might be surprised with the effective and logical ideas your students have for solving some of the behaviors that push your buttons…like “what should I do with students who repeatedly refuse to do homework?” Run the strategy full group, or begin with something like the old-fashioned “suggestion box”. You will likely get some good input.
The “Take Home” Quiz
Prepare a short quiz (5 questions) for students to take home. The quiz will only be accepted back if it is in the parent’s handwriting…which means that the parent will have to ask the student for help in answering, since he/she wasn’t there. Ask questions like, “What is [teacher name’s] signal for attentive listening?” “Why are I-Messages a good practice?” What was the discussion about in Social Studies today?” This is a nice way to involve parents without a conference.
If you aren’t getting the response you had hoped for in the strategies listed above, what might you change to encourage more participation, thoughtfulness, and consideration? Remember the old phrase, “you get what you give”.