Sunday, January 24, 2010

Administrators as Classroom Helpers


In my first year of teaching I had two classes I didn't know what to do with. They were out of control behavior wise and they wound up not doing a lot of the same experiments and activities as the other students because of their behavior. Part of the problem was that I was a new teacher with no experience and another part of the problem was that I wasn't looking for another way to tackle the problem (other then to take away the activity/experiment).

When I moved down to fourth grade the behaviors were not as extreme as in my sixth grade class so everyone pretty much got to do all the activites.

This year, however, I have a group of students (fourth graders) who have behavior issues that had me thinking, "Oh dear, I am going to have to threaten and follow through on taking away an activity." That is when I started thinking outside the box a little. I realized I could do the activity/experiment if I had another set of adult hands...so my attention wasn't divided between the activity and the behavior.

I could have asked a parent but decided to go to my principal and asst. principal (because they have more clout in the students eyes) and explain the situation...basically that I wanted these students to participate but they couldn't unless I had another set of hands and their presence to reduce behavioral problems. They were both agreeable to coming in and helping out for 30 minutes or so (based on their schedules). I threw in the added suggestion that they could knock out a classroom observation or two this way...hoping to give them an incentive :)

My Assistant Principal (pictured above) came in to help students in this class make rain gauges. She has since helped us with several other activities (with our principal volunteering to step in if she couldn't make it).

It made all the difference. Behavior problems during experiments reduced drastically and all students were able to participate.

The only reason why I am blogging about this is that it NEVER would have occurred to me to go to my administrators and ask for help like this in my first year of teaching. It was a middle school so there was quite a lot more distance between administrators and staff (then in my current elementary school setting) but I think if I had asked I would have gotten help...in that situation even some of our tough (but lovable) support staff would have enjoyed the opportunity to help and "straighten out" some of my more disrespectful students.

The lesson I learned from all this is to look for ways to make things happen instead of look for reasons it can't.

1 comment:

Mendy said...

What a brilliant idea.

It is often the students with behavior problems that need those hands-on learning experiences the most, and what an elegant way of handling it! It is too bad we didn't think of it, because you're right - I think the hall monitors or our SRO would have loved to come in for that hour!

Thanks for sharing!