Modeling behavior the first few weeks of School

Saturday, September 1, 2018

I have a question for you ... the first few weeks of school do you model expected behavior??  
Take a second and really think about it... it's so easy to talk, talk and talk some more the first few weeks of school.  You wonder why your voice is weak and sore by the first Friday.  
We DO a LOT of talking that first week or so but let me challenge you.  Go back to the first question I asked here...are you really modeling the expected behavior you want to see?

modeling behavior the first few weeks of school

It's so important to use those first few days/weeks carefully with your students.  You are establishing your routines, what's expected and what's acceptable to do in your classroom.  The first time someone makes a joke at another child's expense I address it.  I remind my students that OUR classroom is a 'family' community.  We accept each other unconditionally with all our faults.  I remind them that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes.  I'll never forget the year my mom was sick and died 6 months after diagnosis from cancer.  It was a devastating year as you can imagine.  My students saw my red eyes daily and were so sensitive.  I received lots of extra hugs, drawings, cards and flowers that year.  I thought I was at my worst that year...my head wasn't in the game.  I was constantly thinking about my mom and how I could best help her and my dad. 
However...somehow through God's grace I must have been my normal 'self' to those students because....years later something special happened. 
I received a letter in intra district mail from a middle school teacher.  She had her students write about 'their hero'. This teacher was kind enough to send me the essay this student wrote which was clearly about me and our year together in a 1/2 combo class.
She wrote how she was a first grader in the combo ( which I clearly remember ) and on the second day of school a second grader made a comment about how her drawing wasn't good at all.  This little girl started to tear up quietly.  I noticed the exchange and went to see what went down.
I ever so carefully again with God's grace and wisdom was able to let the older child know how hurtful and inappropriate that comment was and somehow made the first grader feel like a million bucks.  She wrote how she never ever forget that exchange and she knew more than ever that her teacher had her back.  She said that gave her confidence that stayed with her and encouraged her.  
At the time, I was SURVIVING!!! TRULY going through the HARDEST time of my laugh and legit surviving.  I felt like a zombie most days knowing my mom was suffering and missed A LOT of school to be with her.  
But because I took the time to model and follow through with expected behavior right out of the gate I was able to still even in the chaos of my own  life have the type of classroom that was crucial to mine and my students well being... a classroom I strive to have each and every year.
How do I do that?  
I MODEL through my actions every behavior I hope to see and MODEL what is not acceptable.  Sometime I get them involved in a skit, or they use a hand signal to show me if my own acting was appropriate with a thumbs up or thumbs down signal.
When I say I MODEL - I do just that!  I sit in a chair and rock back and forth twirling my hair.  Is this acceptable....all thumbs are DOWN and they giggle a bit.  

I MODEL kind words and approach a student with my dialogue.  Everyone is watching with bated breath while I say something kind to my 'neighbor' of course while pretending I'm 7 years old instead of ___.  LOL
I MODEL mean bully ish words and see the horrified looks on their faces and we discuss how that makes us feel too.  Just talking at your students doesn't make the impact you need to make my friends.  They will look out the window - tune you out and miss 1/2 of your 'lecture'.  But, if you act silly, get them involved, prepare skits etc.  you will see that they are active participants in your first few weeks of expectations.  They will want to imitate back the behavior you so carefully modeled those first few weeks. 

modeling behavior the first few weeks of school


So be silly - bring in props if you need to, don't just talk at your students and watch the magic happen.  In no time at all your classroom will be a loving, accepting place that all classrooms should be.  Even visitors get the vibes from our classroom from spending a short amount of time with us.  
I say I want to be the kind of teacher I would want for my own children and I strive to live that every single day...yes, I fail...we all do.  But, if that's what we strive for everyday we are doing something right.



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