Monday, October 7, 2013

Can't we just expect positive behavior?

Principal ponderings...
Here's a question that I know crossed my mind several times when I was a 2nd grade teacher: Why should I have to teach kids to behave in class?  They know what they are supposed to do.  Why can I not just expect good behavior?  I know that there were many days in my first year in 2nd grade where I felt like I was always just reacting to students who misbehaved.  And that meant that I was usually punishing them in some way...making them write about their bad choices, calling their parents, or the worst one...having them miss minutes from recess.  After struggling through that year, I realized that I needed to make a change.  I needed to be more proactive.  I needed to shift my focus to teaching the behavior expectations that I wanted and rewarding positive behavior.  Did you know that research has shown that when we implement punishments for negative behavior, such as a loss of privileges, especially when we do this inconsistently and without other positive strategies, it is ineffective?  It was an 'a-ha moment' for me when I realized that a much more positive approach would be to teach behavioral expectations and reward my students for following them instead of waiting for them to misbehave before responding.
I know we have already been in school a month, but I want to remind everyone that it takes time to introduce, model, and reinforce positive social behavior.  Stop and have you taught behavioral expectations to your students?  If some are still struggling with those expectations, do you have a plan to reteach them?  The more time you spend on this area now, the more time you will have for teaching reading, math, science, social studies in the future.  Our students are still learning how to behave, how to be good students, how to interact with adults and peers.  Let's make sure we are teaching them these skills instead of punishing them when they don't exhibit those skills.
I know one area where we all need to chip in and help with behavioral expectations is the playground and the cafeteria.  We still need to be teaching kids how to interact with each other during recess and lunch.  Even if you are not with your students during these times, you should still be having conversations with them about what our expectations are for them.  And if you notice them having a difficult time down in the lunchroom when you pick them up, then use that as a teachable moment to remind them of what you expect from them.  When they are demonstrating the expected behaviors, then recognize them for making the right choice!  I know that our students truly want to make the adults that work with them proud, so let's think about how we can give them more positive reinforcement and create opportunities for them to make us proud.

Currently reading:
I decided to add a new section to my blog!  Since I usually tell people or they ask me what I have been reading or what I am working on, I thought I would put it in writing so everyone can find book titles here.  This past weekend I read the global read aloud book, Marty Mcguire, by Kate Messner.  A cute story about a 3rd grade girl who would much rather be catching frogs than wearing a princess costume in the school play.  I also read The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes.  This is a book about a 2nd grade boy...which is great because there aren't too many books about 2nd grade boys!  I like how one review of the book said "Billy Miller's second grade year is quietly spectacular in a wonderfully ordinary way."
Here's a book I got from the book fair and read with my nieces. Funny book with some cat facts mixed in:

This is another book that I got at the book fair and plan to start reading.

Events this week:

Monday - After school Latin program from 3:30-4:30, we will let you know who should be attending
Tuesday - Evidence collection time...Teachers have one hour after school that can be dedicated to evidence collection.  You may choose to any location to work on evidence collection.  After school Latin program from 3:30-4:30, we will let you know who should be attending
Wednesday - School picture day!  Staff make sure you have your picture taken for badges, 2nd grade and multi-age chorus practice 2:25 in the gym, School Council Meeting 3:30-4:30 in the library, FloRo School Improvement Plan presentation at School Committee, 7:00 at the high school
Friday - Team leader meeting in the office at 8:30, Para meeting in the teachers' room at 9:00

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Staff asking great questions and focusing on our new safety procedures that were discussed during the Groton Police presentation.  Mrs. Valenta's story was difficult to hear, but helped reiterate the importance of the changes we are making.  Thank you to the paras who volunteered to stay after and hear the presentation.
  • Students, parents and teachers enjoyed going to the book fair last week.  Several families attended the evening event on Thursday.  I know I made several purchases to add to my library!
  • Mr. Wiesner had his first all grade chorus group on Wednesday.  When I walked by the gym, I couldn't help but pop in because the 4th graders sounded amazing!
  • I received a letter inviting me to come to Mrs. Taylor's room...I got to watch a video of kindergartners reading their "I have..." sentences that they did in writing.
Check it out:
My mother shared this blog entry with me this weekend.  Thought you would all enjoy this.  My favorite quote:
"Teaching is not easy. Teaching is not intuitive. Teaching is not something that anyone can figure out on their own. Education researchers spend lifetimes developing effective new teaching methods. Teaching takes hard work and constant training."
Considering how the month of September has been for many of us emotionally, I thought this was an appropriate read, "How are Happiness and Learning Connected?"
And here is a quote from someone I follow on Twitter, it stuck with me this weekend:
"Sometimes the only positive affirmation a student receives in their day, comes from their teacher.  Show them you care."

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