Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 Days with Mama A: Teacher Voice (Day 23).

There have been days I have come home from a long day at work and my lerve muffin has reminded me to stop using my teacher voice with him.  


I never mean to use it, but occasionally it leaks out in my free time. 

Sometimes it's good.  
Sometimes it's not so good.  
It just sort of depends on the day I've had at the building. 

Each teacher has their own individual teaching styles and how they run their classrooms.  And each teacher has their own "teacher voice" that is their standard mode of communication with their students.  I've taught with a lot of teachers in various locations over the years, and I've come to recognize certain types of voices that can be heard in each and every school building:

Some teachers have Very Nice teacher voices.  They encourage their children with genuine excitement about their lessons.  They listen very attentively to the stories their students share with them, and always seem to know just what to say to the students who are having a bad day. They are the kind of folks that are just nice to be around.  They are encouraging and positive.  I have been so fortunate to know some of these good souls.

There are also some teachers with Voices That Make Their Children Stop Dead In Their Tracks.  These teachers never seem to have to yell at their students.  Their voices command authority and respect.  I am amazed at these people for they surely have a gift.  I swear they are the child-whisperers in the buildings and even I have been hesitant to cross the strong and quiet teachers.

Then there are the teachers who are the Life of the Party.  They are loud and boisterous and always seem to be having a great time.  They are usually pretty funny and their children worship the ground they walk on.  Sometimes their rooms look like a tornado of activity, but man, do they have a good time while learning.

I've always been mystified by the Hippie Teachers.  These teachers love their kids, they love the planet, they love their class pets, and they are always cool, calm, and collected when speaking to their students.  Things seem to just roll off their backs and they always seem to be on an even keel.  And when they speak, their students just seem to calm down with them, too.  My dad used to refer to this as the Mr. Rogers' voice:


I'm all ready feeling better, aren't you? 

Some of the teachers are they types who Have Lost Their Voices in the Classroom.  Their directions and instructions are lost in the sea of children who are doing everything but listening to their teacher.  These teachers are seen wringing hands and sometimes are doing their very best to control the circus of activity.  They are often very sweet, but they have been run over by their kids.

There are the Bully Teachers.  They tend to want to sass back to their students, get all up in their kids' faces, and always want to have the last word.  They have no problem telling their children off in a mean and derogatory manner.   It's not fun to be on the receiving end of these voices.  Or to have to listen to them.

And finally, there are the Screamers and the Yellers.  These are usually everyone's least favorite voices within the building.  These people are screeching and squawking at their children almost the entire day, every day, every week, every month, all year.  They often slap things down on their desks or slam doors shut and huff and puff and make a scene.  After a while the shock factor wears off and the children tune out the excessive noise that their teachers are creating.

I will be the first to admit that most seasoned teachers will find that they fit into more than one of the above categories from time to time.  We all have our good and bad days, and I think it takes some time to really discover who you are in the classroom and what style of voice best suits you.  I know my best classes are the days I choose to demonstrate the behavior I want to see from my students.  If I'm calm, assertive, and warm towards my kids, the majority of them will return the favor.  And those few knuckleheads who always want to cause some issues?  Even the meanest kids can't ignore a teacher who give them sincere (and deserved) compliments or a "how's it going?"

So, my dear folks who work with the students?  Let's decide now that Friday is going to be a good day.  Let's decide right now that we want our teacher voices to be the ones that make a difference.

And you never know--your voice might be the only encouraging one that kids hears all day.  

Love and smooches,
Mrs. Mama A.
xoxxo

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days with Mama A: Children who argue with adults. (Day 22)

One of my favorite phrases in my classroom when dealing with a child (who is having a less than stellar attitude) in class is:

"I do not argue with children."

I have seen a few sweet teachers over the years in different schools trying desperately to regain control of their classroom by attempting to reason with their students. They believe by continuing to have a conversation with their students when there is a behavior issue that they will demonstrate to their students that they are, indeed, the wise adult in the room.  And they fully expect to walk away from the conversation in agreement with the student that the teacher is in complete control of the room and everything else is daisies and roses.  

They probably expect the child to feel badly and maybe even apologize later. 


I'm sure they weren't expecting their troublesome student to come back with a comment and more than ready to start an argument with the teacher.

And sometimes the student's opinion is a whole lot more convincing to the class. 

And then, the sweet, sweet teacher, has lost complete control of her classroom because she's allowed herself to be pulled into an argument with a child.  She's going to get frustrated and embarrassed and mad.  She might say things she doesn't mean to say.  She might lose her cool in front of the class.  And the children do not have to correct their behavior because they have managed to talk themselves out of punishment. 

Again.

She'd be better off trying to reason with a cat. 


These children have been taught that it's ok to speak to adults like equals.  They have learned that the person who yells the loudest is the winner (or at least the one most people will hear).  They are always going to seek to have the last word and/or the best comeback.  Sometimes they also attempt to manipulate with tears and whining.  They may also huff and puff and look all pitiful/angry, but they are not going to be ready to back down in front of all of their friends.  

So, when confronted with these children, I would suggest taking the following steps:

1.  State the issue and what you want the kids to (not) do: "Sam, please stop pulling Suzie's hair."  Continue with instruction immediately.  Do not wait for a response, do not ask him if he heard you, and do not give him any more of your attention. 

2.  When Sam starts to fuss about it not being fair, that it's Suzie's fault because her hair was so beautiful, or that teachers are always picking on him for everything, ignore him and continue with instruction.  

If he stops, congratulations, you have diffused this situation and regained your classroom.

If he doesn't:

3.  In your calmest voice (without emotion), simply say to sweet little Sam, "Sam, I do not argue with children.  I asked you to stop pulling Suzie's hair, and that is what I expect you to do."  And then immediately continue with instruction.  Children like Sam have become conditioned to argue and shout their way out of a situation and will often find themselves stunned into silence when you refuse to play.  He won't be able to say a word in defense and look smart in front of his peers, and he knows that you have drawn the line.  

Most of the time, he's going to stop at this point.  And if he doesn't, then you will need to take the next steps in regards to continual class disruptions (move seat, time out, marking on behavior log, etc).  But Sam will learn that you have decided to take control of the room, and most likely he's not going to try to argue with you again.  

Always remember: you are the adult.  
And sometimes you are going to be the only one who will demonstrate what that should look like. 

Love and smooches, 
Mrs. Mama A.
xoxxo

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days with Mama A: What are you waiting for? (Day 21)

What are you waiting for today?


A diagnosis?

A job?

Love?

Worth?

For your home to sell?  
Shameless plug, I know. 

Being in the middle of a wait can be exhausting.  
It eats at you. 
It makes you anxious.

But, I know there is an ultimate plan for my life, and I know He works all things together for good.  I've found encouragement in these verses lately:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-20 NASB

But even if He does not.

I don't like to think that my prayers won't always be answered the way I would like for them to be answered.  I have spoken prayers--words I have whispered from from deep places.  Things that I'm almost afraid to speak aloud, desires and dreams that seem almost impossible at times.  He knows my heart and he knows how desperate I am for direction and a clear purpose. 


I'm currently waiting on several things to come to pass.
I'm waiting on answers.  
I'm waiting on guidance.
I'm waiting for Him to move.



But I know, that even when He does not answer, my God is still good.  



Shall we be content to rest in that Truth today?





Love and smooches, 
Mama A. 
xoxxo

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