Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Can we handle the truth?

Every day, our students test us, they test themselves and they test their "friends."
What does this cloud look like to you?
Students under our care secretly want us to be able to handle issues that are too great for them.  They want us to appear, act and portray enough confidence to handle anything they can imagine.  They want us to let them know things will be OK.  They will give us their best (or worst) to see if we are worth our weight in salt. Students want to know that grown-ups can handle things that challenge youngsters.
Battles often start here.  Often times a student wants the teacher to manage their behavior since the student can't or won't control it themselves.  These begin as power struggles, where the student doesn't know how to respond or what the best or right choice is supposed look like.  Often active ignoring, researching and modeling are good options for sharing the right behavior, just like we share the right way to do a math problem.  In other words, we teach behavior and content together.  Just as attitude and action fit together, we teach behavior and content together.
Resiliency is also taught through attempts that ended in in failures.  When a student is encouraged to try again, they learn to separate their actions or behavior from them as individuals and they consider the practice as part of the learning process and independent of themselves.  Sort of like a missed free throw.  Of course we try again.  Of course we miss some, but we improve and gradually become more proficient.
Discipline is either intrinsic or extrinsic.  Intrinsic shows itself substantially more effective than extrinsic motivation. Internal motivation sustains effort farther than external reward system could reach.  Not to denigrate systemic programs, especially when implemented with systematic fidelity because there is always great need to demonstrate the positive reinforcement necessary to make those first tenuous steps towards progress; but to imply the reward system can be abused.  Students struggling with poor perception regarding their locus of control will seldom take that first step but sit idly by, choosing to forgo the attempt rather than risk the inevitable failure that follows!
Steps to consider:  Positive Reinforcement, authentic praise, building relationship and using an adult voice based on respect, even inf not yet earned, offer great options in connecting and influencing the future.  Which ones can we use? 
We use the methods and techniques that apply to the situation and often times, the teacher is the one that knows more about situations than any other and picks the intervention.  Supporting teachers by supplying interventions, training and time to reflect and practice becomes an administrators focus.



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