Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Not To Say "Good Boy/Bad Boy"

Kids are kids; They aren’t good or bad. Instead of labeling children, you should address their behaviour. Here’s why:

The good boy/bad boy label is damaging to self-esteem. A child who is told he is good feels pressure to be perfect, because he constantly fears the single slip-up that will make him a ‘bad boy’. A child who is told he is bad will grow up believing it.

Children don’t know how to resolve conflict unless you teach them the tools to do so.

Here’s an example of how I teach conflict resolution: 

I have a ‘quiet corner’ set up in a low-traffic area of the classroom, where I take children who were involved disputes. The children sit on chairs facing each other, while I play mediator from a chair a couple feet away.
We’ll call the children Bob and Mary.

“Bob, it’s your turn to talk. Tell your friend what happened, from your point of view. Mary, you cannot interrupt while Bob is talking”. 

Bob says: “Mary, you broke my tower”. 

Mary then has a chance to talk. “But I saw your Mommy come to the door, so I knew you were going home, so I wanted to build my own thing”. 

I say to Mary, “How do you think that made Bob feel?”
Mary says, “Sad?”

I say, “How could you tell he was sad?” It’s important to prompt children to recognize feelings by reading body language and listening for verbal cues.

“Bob was crying and then he kicked me”.

“What could you have done differently?” I ask Bob.

“Instead of kicking you, I could have said ‘I want to show my mommy the tower, and then you can play with these blocks’”.

“Great idea! Mary, what could you have done differently?”

“I could have asked Bob if I could use the blocks”.

“How can you fix the situation now?

Mary says, “I can help Bob build the tower again”.
Bob says, “I’d like that”.

Later, I have a talk with the class about the situation. I address the issue at circle time, without singling out the children who were involved. I get all the children involved in a discussion or roleplay.

Kids are not simply good or bad. Even if a child’s behaviour leaves a lot to be desired, he is not so one-dimensional that he can be defined by it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

To Gift or Not To Gift? A Guide to Holiday Gifts for Teachers

Giving a gift isn't about spending lots of money; it's about doing a little something special to make the receiver smile, to show you care or to make their job a little easier. Everyone wants to feel appreciated, teachers included.

Teacher Gift Ideas

Great gift ideas:

- Gift certificate to a bookstore - Teachers love books.
- A festive mug with teacher's favourite coffee. - Considerate and useful.
- Fun file folders - Practical and fun.
- Movie tickets - A very affordable way to help your teacher relax.
- Teacher's Lesson Planner and Record Book - Great for organizing
- Picture frame (with your child's picture or a class photo) - Very thoughtful.
- Flowers - Something lovely that they wouldn't buy themselves.

What not to give:

-Scented lotions, cosmetics, perfumes or aftershave. Many people are sensitive to fragrances, and this kind of gift is very personal, anyway. Save it for your close friends.

-"World's Best Teacher"-emblazoned knicknacks. It's been done.

-Mugs. Also done.

Of course there are exceptions to these rules. If you know for a fact that your child's teacher loves lavender-scented products, that would make a lovely gift. If the mug is handmade and one of a kind, or filled with goodies, it goes from thoughtless to thoughtful.

The best gifts I've ever gotten:

-Olive Oil. This family had recently moved to Canada from Israel and gifted me a beautiful, handwritten note and a bottle of olive oil she and her family (including my student) had made from scratch.

-Dollarama Gift Card. While gift cards are often impersonal, these parents noticed that I often buy items for my classroom from the dollar store, so they got me a gift card to show their appreciation.

-Handmade cards. It means a lot to me when a parent takes the time to help their child write me a thank you card. I cherish these, and have saved cards from as far back as the first year I started teaching.

Teachers: What's the best gift you've ever received? And parents: What are you going to give your child's teacher this year?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Discipline: Setting Boundaries in your Classroom

Disciplining the children in your classroom is vital. Kids need to learn that there are consequences to their actions, so they foster a respect for themselves, their peers, teachers and the classroom. This will help them become responsible adults.

During the first days of school, discuss class rules. Ask your students, "what rules do you think we need in our classroom?". It's important to ask them, rather than just listing rules, to make children really think about what behaviours are acceptable. This also makes them feel involved and increases the sense of community in your classroom.

A final note: don't expect your kids to be perfect. Children will need to be reminded of boundaries from time to time, and that's okay.