These comments remind me of something I told my daughter when she became a
mother. I told her to be specific when telling her children to behave. Say
what is specifically expected. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when
I see parents in public places telling their chidren to be good.
From: Sharon Henneborn [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2004 10:12 AM
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Subject: Re: Learning Attitude
I read through all of Michelle's post and took out all the tangible
rewards. Read it again without the points and tangible rewards. It
becomes obvious that the candy and pop didn't produce the resulted
improved behavior. It is her consistent encouragement and positive
guidance that has produced the improvement! Kudos ;<)
Teaching them eye contact is magic. When I introduced this into my
classes there was immediate improvement. When I wanted to give
information and wanted their attention I would say, "Please give me eye
contact." or " Sam has something to say. Please give him eye contact."
and it worked like magic. It is a very specific action. I was taught
by my family that children respond positively to directions that
outline specifically what behavior you want from them. When an adult
lists the shortcomings the result is the child thinks of it as personal
failure but has no guidance for improvement. This is a formula for
failure and chaos.
An example I have used before: I was in college when we moved to a new
town. I came home for summer and didn't know anyone in the community.
Soon after I arrived the house across the street had an electrical
fire and fire trucks, firemen, police cars, police, electrical service
trucks and technicians, hose, wires, and neighbors were all over. The
kids were running all through the confusion, adults were yelling and
screaming for them to stop and get out of the way. They did not listen
and just got wilder. I got worried for their safety and finally was
brave enough to yell out that I wanted every child who could walk under
my arm to line up with toes on the edge of this sidewalk. None of
these kids knew me but they responded immediately to the very specific
directions. The adults stopped and stared at me. That scene has
stayed with me all my career and when I am not successful in achieving
my goal I look to see how I can be more specific in the action I expect.
Michelle said, "I am still learning, struggling, and developing my
It is obvious that you have developed many tools for success in your
few years and will look forward to many years of guiding your students
to developing "Learning Attitude".
My students must have "learning attitude" to succeed in life, jobs,
everywhere. When students give me the usual - it's my work, this is
the way I want to do it... then I walk away and model learning
attitude: "Class learning attitude is: "What a great idea (teacher's
name) I always do it this way, now I am going to try to learn how to do
it differently." I try to always give positives, my first two lessons
are fail proof, easy, can I talke this home now lessons. 100% success.
It's kinda like a birthday party, everyone comes, partakes in
something, walks away with something special and prized. We alternate
2-D 3-D so everyone can have some level of success, and I tell them I
don't expect them to be Rembrandt. When they say they are frustrated,
I hear them and do the reflective listening thing.
I come from elementary to middle school so high esteem is very
important because most of these kids beat down upon themselves and hear
negatives. Teaching them to speak kindly to themselves is important.
Everything is related to themselves, their name, their symbols,
wonderful attributes that describe themselves, their heroes, things
that celebrate them. My lowest schema is 2nd grade, if the student
fulfills the requirements to the best of his/her ability - kudos.
Their work is themselves, and they grow, challenged within their reach,
just as you and I.
I ask for complex solutions. If their solution took 5 seconds, then it
is a simple solution. I also list the criteria - no surprises.
Sometimes I'll say that's a good start, nice warm up, now take it to
the next level of sophistication (give hints). Make the artwork worth
$100,000, you are a professional artist - go for it.
Listening to school appropriate rock, rap, sitting with their friends,
talking while working, all are privileges they absolutely love. No one
ditches, old students return - "please fix it so I can come back into
art, I miss this class" (some are my tough headache guys). It's a
happy environment and it gets them through the duller moments in art -
or the ugly stages in the work.
I say "I love you, love this class, you are a pleasure to have" as
often as possible, I give lots of positive feedback, always try to find
something constructive - cool about their artwork and let them
celebrate it. I get to know the students, what did you do this
weekend, you're in love - that's great, I'll check them out at the
dance, am invited to their games, greet them everytime, love these kids.
I learned from my mentor teacher (last semester was a toughie)
misbehaving kids truly want you to discipline them, they hear and
respond to that. I make sure the class knows up front I offer positive
rewards, positive environment for the majority, and for those who can
only hear negatives - unfortunately the multi-step procedure/talk/lunch
det/after school det...etc. One student now takes his work to the time
out area for the remainder of the week. The class functions better.
Yes, I stand there at the beginning of class and say Yellow table you
are already working, good job
Another thing I teach is active listening skills: turn the body to
face the speaker, eyes on the individual, still the hands - things they
need to do to impress their boss and keep their job. Always relating
it to their present/future real world.
I am still learning, struggling, and developing my teaching style.
> Michelle, do you inform the students about their points and progress.
(snip) All classes except those at the top of the list wouldn't care and
in some situations compete for bottom position as this would also
them with some "status". I am finding reward systems just don't work -