Thursday, March 15, 2012

blogging pays off again!

Quite luckily, I read through Heather's blog about dealing with tattle tales the other night. This is a problem I deal with daily. I admit, it is partly my fault. Since September I have taught my students that they need to ask a teacher when they have a problem because I noticed SO MANY of them just turned around and smacked the offender. Like all.the.time! It seemed a bit absurd to me, until I found out that some - let me stress, NOT all - students are treated this way by their parents. {I do have some wonderfully supportive parents.} This might be a good time to mention that I try VERY hard to keep school-home communication positive because I am terrified of becoming the cause for violence at home. So I tell students, "I want to help you solve your problems! Please come to me. I am here for you." You know the conversation:

"What happens when someone pushes you?" 
"I push him/her back." 
"And then what happens?"
"He/she pushes me."
"Yes, and then?"
"I push him back."
"Hmmmm. Do you see what is starting here?"
"Yes, miss."

Honestly, I just found it so much easier to teach my students problem solving methods when it's one on one and when I can talk outright with all of those involved. But today, I guess I was just feeling busy with the usual million things to get done, and when a student came to me to say, "Blah Blah said a bad word for me," I decided I need these students to be a little less dependent and a lot more proactive. Enter Heather's Heart! {Seriously, go read her blog about this now. It was SO helpful.}

Our students need to stand up for themselves. They need to be accountable for their actions. They need to feel a sense of responsibility for their own feelings and those of others. They need to KNOW that how they feel really matters. They need to have strategies to deal with problems on their own so that they might feel less reliant on adult intervention. {Because let's not forget, some kids don't like to talk about problems and certainly not with adults.}

"I want you to go back to your friend that made the mistake and I want you to stand up tall. Then, using your strong voice, the one that says 'hey, I really mean this,' you need to tell the person that hurt you how you feel: I do not like the way you are treating me/the things you are saying to me. And then that person, when they are making smart choices, needs to look at you and respond with this: I understand and I am sorry." I definitely made sure to emphasize that a "strong voice" is not a loud/mean/scary/totallyintimidating/crazy voice!

We practiced. {This may have been a mistake on my part because for about ten minutes afterward I had kids walking around deliberately saying "bad" words in Arabic so they could "practice." An oversight, for sure!} When something like this happens, my next step is to make sure that I go to the student that made the mistake, talk about why it happened and help that student to think of some smarter choices that could have been made. As Heather mentions, teaching students this strategy is not an overnight success - not even close. It takes time, it takes repeated conversations about personal responsibility, and a TON of modelling and guiding.  It's my next big tackle in 2C! Thanks to Heather for introducing me to this strategy. Thanks up to the moon!

- Amanda


  1. Wow- you teach in Kuwait! That is SO cool!

    Our school counselor taught the kids to use this:
    I feel ______ when you _______ because _______. I don't like it, and I want you to stop.

    It's really good because it gives them a structure, just like the one you gave your students.

    I'm excited to start following your blog!
    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  2. WOW! I can't imagine how difficult having to reinforce something that their culture is not accustomed to...I wish I had solution for ya, but I think you are doing great!! I love reading your stories and giving us insight about the techniques you are using and how they are or aren't working...

    Keep us updated...


  3. I am a new follower. You have some very "inspirational" ideas. I love your printables! :)


  4. Thanks, everyone! I have to say, I've been pleasantly surprised using this tactic. For the most part, when a kid complains at this point in the year, I just look at him or her and ask, "Well, did you tell that person how that made you feel?" The student almost always turns around to find that person and make it known. Awesome!