Relationships are a challenge to build, especially in educational settings. Everyone is on overdrive and, often, just trying to get things done.
However, they are so necessary in the success of the organization, classroom, school, & learning community. An inclusive approach is a collaborative one. Just the other day, I was speaking with a colleague who raised a concern with a summer camp about how their child was being spoken too. My colleague felt very angry because their child felt like they were constantly being yelled at and getting in to trouble. I am not sure the contexts and nor was my colleague. She wrote an email outlining her concern from the perspective of her child. Simple enough. She figured the leader or director would reach out and ask to chat. Chatting is much better than emailing when emotions are high. However, a phone call never came. A confrontational email came, in my colleague's perspective, and it shot down her claims and criticized her for sending an email in the first place. There is now two angry adults and one upset child. No one wins! At this point, I suggested my colleague take 24 hours or so and then pick up the phone or, if possible, stop in- have a real conversation that is neither accusatory or confrontational. Explain that your concerns clearly rather than defensively. Allow the other person to respond clearly and with thought. Often when heated emails or not nice emails are sent, they are misread or miscommunicated. The context is lost.
People will have frustrations- that is okay. Parents will raise their concerns. Colleagues will share their challenges. Administration will let you know what you need to do better. As personal as it may feel, and at times it might be, you need to remember you are working in a professional learning community. As much as you may want to approach the situation in haste, bite your tongue! I sometimes bite the inside of my cheek in order to keep my mouth closed and my comments short.
It might just be their very approach to sharing will drive you nuts: maybe it is an email, maybe they are too direct, maybe they are too confusing, maybe they are not clear enough, or maybe they just don’t articulate themselves in a way you connect with or understand. Whatever the reason, just take a breath, do not open your mouth or do not hit reply!!!
Your response can change everything. Once you read their email or once you hear what they have to say- the ball is in your court. You can change the shape of the conversation.
You have an amazing opportunity to change the direction & to build (or continue to build) a relationship.
The best part is, you really don’t have to do too much.
Goal Tracking is one of my favourite resources we have created at My Inclusive Classroom! It is an easy to use resource that helps you create a plan for your professional (or personal) growth and stick to it. The resource breaks the process down for you into small, medium, and large components- all with your focus on self development.
The resource is created for teachers by teachers, but the idea can be applied to all professions and different contexts.
If done well, goal setting will ensure your practice never plateaus. Once you implement successful goal setting strategies, your ability to reflect on your teaching will improve. For instance, you will go from knowing a lesson was a complete flop, to understanding why this was the case, and to ensuring this never happens again. Reflection on practice (and, eventually, in practice) is a key component in your professional development- you need to not only know when something worked, did not work, or needs revision, but you need to be able to connect it to understanding and reasons.
When you create a goal for yourself, you are identifying an area in which you want to improve. You are acknowledging that you need to learn more, and you need to grow. That is a powerfully important step in self development: when you start to say 'hey I don't know everything' or 'I can be better', you are opening up your world to learning and growth.
After identifying a large overall goal, you need to create check points or medium goals to ensure you are on track. These medium goals, once achieved, demonstrate that you are on your way to getting to where you want to be (for now). How do you know you are on track to these medium goals?
That part it easy- keep reading!
Students talking too much, too loudly, or not at the right time? Learning is collaborative and, most of the time, learning happens in a community. Learning and teaching are social activities- kiddos need to learn 'learning' skills. Part of this skill set is understanding when it is okay to chat, when it is okay to be loud, when it is necessary (or okay) to be quiet, and when you need to be silent. Students need to chat & many want to chat- I love a classroom full of conversation and dialogue, but I also love a classroom that understands appropriate voice level.
This is one of the most common frustrations I hear- and have experienced as a teacher. Kiddos come running in from recess and are super excited about something, anything, and they are chatting loudly! You remind them it is class time and recess is over, yet they don't hear you. You clap your hands, sing a chant 'Macaronni and Cheese, Everybody' expecting them to reply with 'Quiet Please', but they still don't. You flick the lights ten times, now you have some kiddos' attention. BUT SOME KIDDOS ARE STILL TALKING.. what do you do?
Have you ever noticed once silent reading or journal writing is over, the noise goes from a few desk mates whispering to full out group conversations in a matter of minutes? It happens fast and can be a slippery slope if you do not stop the excessive chatting fast!!! So, what do you do?
Before we explore what you can do to teach 'appropriate voice level' and 'talk time', we need to explore why kiddos are ignoring your prompts & directions to be quiet or to use an indoor voice. It is really quite simple and can be broken down into two main points. (There may be a few other reasons, but these two reasons are specific to a class as a whole or as a learning community; whereas, there may be other reasons that are more specific to individual students).
Your students don’t understand what NO TALKING or COLLABORATIVE TALKING is or what it looks like. SOLUTION: you need to teach them what these terms (or your terms for the same concepts) mean, what they look like, and when to use them. This post will set out a teaching plan for you to teach your students what no talking is or what indoor voices sound like or what voice level to use when you are working in a group.
Your students don’t believe you mean it or they don't believe you will give them a consequence of meaning. SOLUTION: you need to regain your authority with your students. You need to revisit your current class culture, how do your students view you as a teacher?, and regain your role as the leader of the group. This post will explore how you can get your students to start or restart believing you mean what you say.
The good news....both these solutions utilize the same teaching plan. So, whatever the reason might be that your class is full of chatter boxes, you only have to follow one plan to get those kiddos chatting appropriately.
What can you do when the decibel level rises from collaborative to out of control?
How often do you take time the time to reflect and explore your experiences?
When you do, how much do you learn? Does it affect your perspective?
Over the last two weeks, I have been acting on overdrive with a few things- I JUST NEED TO GET THINGS DONE- but I rushed, and did not think about the big picture.
Finally, just yesterday, a colleague said to me ‘what are you doing?’. Instead of working with focus, I was working in haste- I met my deadlines, I did what I needed to do- but I did not feel great about it. WHY? I didn’t stop, plan, prep, and keep the big picture in mind. REFLECTION!
We have been working on a project that requires attention, preparation, and reflection. I was missing the reflection piece.... I was not coming back to why we were doing what we were doing...