Do you ever feel like your classroom needs a makeover?
I did yesterday.
I was perfectly fine with everything the way it was going, but something needed to be moved. I could just tell.
The students were starting to become complacent, get on each other's nerves, and I think they thought there should be a change, too.
So, in the past, I would have done the switching either after school or during a special.
But yesterday, I put my program to the test... I asked the kids.
We discussed every little detailed move, and it was really neat to listen to their input. '
I didn't go with everything they wanted, but they brought up some great points about traffic flow, etc. that I hadn't even thought of.
Excited to get there today to see how our "makeover" turned out. I think we'll be pleased.
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The "Classroom Store" is definitely a hot spot of activity when we open it.
Students are able to use their "spend" money as long as they don't go below about $10... because I don't want them to go under $0 before the next payday... if something were to come up that they weren't expecting.
One day, about 4 or 5 years ago, I had a girl that was struggling with a purchase. She just wanted a certain item for $75... but didn't want to part with the money (she had more than enough, by the way).
So she walked away, and said she didn't want to buy it.
Then she came back.
What she said to me next, was one of those teachable moments that we as teachers live for. She said... "I'll take it, but YOU have to take the money out of my folder."
What a chance to teach delayed gratification.
I said to her simply, "No, if you would like that item, you need to pay for it... I'm not going to take it out of your folder. You can certainly buy it because you have enough money, it's just your choice of whether you buy it now, or wait until the next store opening."
After a lonnnnnng pause.........She said, "I'll just wait," and she walked away.
What an honor to teach her a life-long skill that will be very beneficial to her financial well-being down the road.
Many adults struggle with what she went through on that day.
And that is just one of the many ways as to why this program is so POWERFUL!!!
[Only 3 more days until a special POWERFUL Program announcement!]
"Replace fear with trust, and build it daily" is a quote from Rafe Esquith, a phenomenal elementary teacher from inner-city Los Angeles. He has written a few books, most notably "Teach Like Your Hair Is On Fire" and "There Are No Shortcuts."
This quote has stuck with me every day since I saw him live at a conference near where I teach. It has changed the way that I think about this very important concept that I feel is so important of building a healthy classroom community.
If you've been following my posts, you know that I have a classroom token economy system, and have been doing it for 18 years. We use "fake" classroom money once they get jobs, and the students can spend it accordingly (or even save it, or give it away to a good classroom cause).
One job that I always just did myself, was to be in charge of the "money."
It's probably because I didn't fully trust my students with it.
Once I heard Rafe speak, and really thought about it, I basically went "all in" and made the jump to really trust the students by having THEM in charge of all the money… from being bankers, to making change, to being store managers, etc.
This also freed me up from being the "gatekeeper" of the money… and let me focus on my job of being a … "Classroom Teacher."
Now, I had to hire the students that were strong in that area initially (and through numerous teachings of the process)… but learned that I could make the ultimate hire of hiring my "stealer" (see previous post)…that's right… I needed to back up my words of "I forgive you" and put them in a position … that might not have been initially in their best interests.
Do YOU think that I trust my students MORE now? You bet I do.
[Only 4 more days until a P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. Program announcement!]
Unfortunately, in every year of my career, I've had a problem of at least one student (sometimes more)… stealing.
You probably have had it happen to you, as well.
What do YOU do about it … particularly when you don't know who the student is?
Odds are, you probably have a guess, but what usually happens with students that get into this bad habit, is that they're pretty sneaky about it. As a teacher who tries to instill good character qualities, you probably feel at a loss, and might even get frustrated.
Therefore, I came up with a strategy to help teach integrity.
Since I already have a classroom token economy system up and running early on in the school year, and the value of the "classroom dollar" is at a premium, I simply use this to my advantage when trying to find out who the culprit is (and to ultimately put a stop to it immediately).
Here's the TEN-STEP process that I use that has worked very effectively (usually about day 30 of the school year, when all of the students start to feel comfortable with the system).
1. During a lesson while all of the students are sitting, I kneel down at each of my 4 tables and "accidentally" drop a higher level classroom bill (maybe a twenty or a fifty) without any of the students seeing.
2. I then go back to my original spot, and just watch (without them realizing I'm trying to find out who the culprit is).
3. What happens next, is absolutely amazing. I have NEVER had all 4 bills returned to me (you would think that at least ONCE it would happen, right?!?!?!)
4. The average amount that are returned over the years… three out of the four.
5. I usually can spot who the "stealer" is … because they're like a hawk ... they swoop down, and take what they want (without me or anyone else seeing)… and they subtly put it in their pocket, or into their folder, like it's their money all along. I assume that this happens more often throughout the day for other valuables, but I'm just simply not aware that it's going on, and they definitely take advantage.
6. The 3 students that find the "planted" money… return it almost immediately, and I thank them profusely at the time.
7. We immediately have a classroom discussion once this process is over (which literally takes all of about 2 minutes). Remember from one of my earlier posts, we remember 70% of what we discuss. Therefore, I pull out a book about integrity, about finding things that aren't theirs, and doing "the right thing" and then have a discussion.
8. My focus during the discussion period is about how I had 4 ten dollar bills that I lost recently, and just wanted to verbally acknowledge (with no reward) how proud I was of the 3 students that turned in the money… and then I say that there still is a 4th one out there… and that if that person could just return it at a later time, then that would be all right. Immediately, I continue on with my lesson that I originally started with, and give it time, because I essentially know who the "stealer" NOW is, and watch how they respond to this dilemma that they are facing inside.
9. Usually, about 90% of the time, the person who didn't return it, eventually comes over to me privately and returns the money. We have a good discussion about the word integrity, and how important trust is in our class. They usually apologize, and I always forgive them (because we all make mistakes).
10. After I go through the previous nine steps… the problem of stealing (overall) in our classroom, is usually solved, and I have taught them all a very valuable LIFE LONG lesson about doing the right thing.
How powerful is THAT?
[Remember, the POWERFUL Program is only 5 days from making an
announcement! Don't miss it!]
Being the "phone screener" in our classroom is one of the most popular jobs that the students interview for.
And why not?
The skill of answering the telephone when it rings is such a lost art form. Children today are simply not required to be put into a situation where they need to answer the phone, take a message, or make a decision about what the person on the other end is saying to them.
So, when the phone rings in our classroom, I have a "phone screener" that answers the phone with the utmost clarity (we practice beforehand), and they either take a message, or ask if I'm available (because it's usually for me anyhow).
But that sends a VERY important message to a few people:
1. The students that I'm working with are more important at that instant than a phone call would be.
2. The student that answers the phone will have that skill for the rest of their life.
3. The teacher on the other line knows that I can trust all of my students with messages that could be urgent or detailed in nature (and they're usually laughing when I get to the phone and say how awesome that is that I have the students answer the phone!)
… and I got the idea … because I really don't like answering the phone.
Maybe I'd feel differently if I had this job when I was seven years old. :)
[Only 6 more days until a P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. Program announcement]
Classroom Jobs are the key.
Not just any "classroom jobs" (like the normal "line leader", "lights", etc.)… I'm talking big time jobs for the students to do in your classroom… "computer helper", "phone screener", etc.
Believe me, they can do it! I've been "hiring out" my classroom jobs for YEARS… and it helps me to make great decisions throughout the day, because I can trust them that they'll do their job (or sometimes jobs… the plural form). Most of my students have 3 or 4 jobs each right now!
This is because I hire them by their strengths. I get to know them very early in the school year, and allow them to apply for certain jobs, I interview them, and then I hire them to complete the task(s) on a daily basis. Usually, they get to keep their jobs for about 45 days (or one school quarter)… before they get to train the next person hired.
Why does this work?
Because every child wants to feel like they are good at something. We tend to let them know what they're NOT good at, and then we wonder why there are behavior problems later on.
In my 18 years of teaching, I don't recall ANY student not wanting a job in the classroom. Most want multiple jobs, and it's usually not even about the money, either.
Now that speaks volumes…. and helps me to focus on what's important, so that I don't have that "overwhelming feeling" and can focus on what MY job is:
[Note: only 7 more days until our "P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. Program announcement!!!]
Mark D. Putney
Grade 2 Teacher