Thursday, March 22, 2018

Is Anybody Listening?

One of the easiest mistakes for any teacher--and especially a first-year teacher--to make is to talk when students are not listening. There are lots of reasons for this, but none of them are good ones. If you are talking and your students are not listening, then nothing productive is happening and you are sending a strong message that what you have to say is not important.

If you only make one small change this month, then make that small change be that you will help your students listen to you when you speak to them. If you want a class to listen to you, catch their attention and then slowly lower the volume of your voice. If you really want to make students pay attention, a dramatic stage whisper works wonders.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Don't Give Up on Challenging Students

At this time of year, it's easy to feel discouraged about the potential success of students who have been challenging since the term began. By this point, you have probably had numerous conferences with administrators, counselors, case managers, parents or guardians, your lunch table companions, and the students themselves. When nothing appears to change, it's only natural to feel discouraged. Weary. Worn out. Frustrated.

Don't give up. All of your students--and especially the challenging ones--deserve the best from you. They need to feel that they can succeed. More important, however, they need to feel that you still believe in them. 

Because challenging students often have years of failure behind them, they expect to be singled out—to be different.  When teachers appear to give up, then the negative self-image that challenging students carry with them is reinforced once again. 

Teacher commitment to the belief that all students are expected to succeed is the bedrock of successfully dealing with challenging students. After all, if their teachers don’t believe in their ability to succeed, who will?

Instead of giving in to your frustration and viewing your students with expectations of looming misbehavior, if you can calmly treat difficult students with the same expectations as other students, they will often rise to the occasion. The self-fulfilling prophecy of their teacher’s acceptance and expectations will make it possible for them to achieve academic and behavioral success.