How many times have you had to tell the same students the same things over and over and over again about:
- Not pushing
- Being fair
- Not cheating
- Being considerate
- Respecting other people’s property
- Not bullying
- Being careful …. etc., etc., etc.
Does that endless repetition bring you down? Sap your energy? Fortunately, there IS a better way… a way that takes far less effort from you while it actually increases students’ engagement and ownership.
#1 – Key to Success: Do NOT focus in on “troublemakers.” Yes, do NOT focus your direct attention on them.
#2 – Key to Success: Bring a group of students together (at least 5 or 6 students, up to as many as 20 students) to discuss ‘hypothetical’ situations… (Don’t start with the situations that are draining your life energy. Instead, make the ‘hypotheticals’ more neutral, while being age appropriate and entirely relevant to students’ personal experience.)
#3 – Key to Success: Respectfully ASK the group a wide ranging variety of questions that allow for multiple perspectives and points of view.
#4 – Key to Success: Listen … REALLY LISTEN to their answers. (Zero commentary required.)
#5 – Key to Success: Notice the degree of intensity with which young students listen to each others’ answers. They are, you know, much more interested in their peers than they are in us grownups.
Getting the ‘hypotheticals’ clear enough is essential – but it’s NOT rocket science. The questions you ask around those ‘hypotheticals’ must be neutral enough (no labels/no value judgements) to pass under kids’ radar. Do this and you’re going to see some very different interactions in your classroom and on the playground.
Let’s Get Kids Thinking (and Accessing Their Own Creativity, Their Own Problem Solving Abilities, Their Natural Tendency to Empathize, Their Own Wisdom …) so that we can give them what they need, and what they deep down want:
* To be taken seriously.
* To have their thinking ability challenged.
* To have their self-respect nurtured.
* To be shown how they can make a difference.
* To participate in discovering solutions.
* To build on interests that they perceive to be relevant.
* To have experiences that will bring out the best in themselves.
* To tap into their own creativity and common sense.
Children know a lot. (They don’t always know that they know, but when they discover this fact … their confidence, courage and self-worth are substantially fortified.)
Children’s social intelligence expands when they’re exposed to well-designed opportunities that enliven their own common sense, empathy and critical thinking/problem solving skills.
Young children have profound focusing abilities … when topics are perceived by them as personally relevant.
Very young children are learning ALL the time, and that very definitely includes time they spend with other children.