Book Study Part 6: The End

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Welcome to the final part of our book study on You Can't Teach a Class You Can't Manage by Donna Whyte.

If you're just tuning in, you can catch up on the first parts here:
  1. Introduction
  2. Cornerstone #1: Self Control
  3. Cornerstone #2: Choice
  4. Cornerstone #3: Communication
  5. Cornerstone #4: Community
This brings us to the last part: The Toolbox of Management Techniques

I have only taught littles (Kinder and preschool) so most of these things come naturally to me. Visuals, wiggling, activities, and changing the pace are everyday occurrences in our room. I use humor more outside the classroom than inside because some of mine get so over-the-top silly when I get silly. But I do use humor whenever I think they can handle it.

The only thing on this list I haven't tried is rocking chairs. I'm just afraid of pinched fingers or toes. But I can see how this would be extremely beneficial to the kids that just need to wiggle. 

Students need to know what to do when a pencil tip breaks. Do they need to stop the whole class to get another one, can they raise their hand and ask for a new one, or can they get up and take care of it themselves? Teach them. They need to know how to solve this dilemma. 

In upper grades, I have seen "Must do" assignments and "May do" options for when work is finished or for choosing the next assignment. In our class, we use the third strategy: early finishers. We use Ball Words from Differentiated Kindergarten. Many times when my smarties are done before everyone else, they work on Ball Words or Speed Readers, partner plays, library, or writing. 

None of us have difficult behaviors so the above list isn't you can stop laughing now. :) There will be difficult behaviors and so it is imperative to have a plan. That plan will change based on the behavior and the student. Some just need a quick a reminder of what is expected and that's the end of it, while others need a whole behavior contract complete with smilies and frownies to make note of the behavior. You have to do what works best for you student. If you're not sure, contact team members, your problem solving committee, or an administrator for ideas. You may think you've tried EVERYTHING but with collaboration, you may find another solution that works. 

I hadn't thought of it like this but it's true. Now if a student is being severely unsafe and is a threat to himself or others, call for backup. But if he's just driving you crazy another class for a few minutes may be all he (and you) need to refocus and regroup. 

I wish these things were included in every ISS situation, but sadly, I know it's not. It may be up to you when the child returns to go over these steps right away in order to have a successful return to the classroom.

I have had students tell me they have no idea how to the the attention of others appropriately to play with them or how to make friends. We expect so much out of our babies and many times we forget how little they actually are. I wish we could spend the first few months of kindergarten focusing only on social skills. We'd have way less trouble with it later. 

Teach your children the choice they have when confronted with a problem:

Many kids don't know they have a choice. Especially if this is their first time in school or with other kids their age.

And the last thing we want to do is to physically move or restrain a child. The child should have as many opportunities he/she needs to make a safe choice without physical intervention by an adult. 

I could get up on my soap box here and go on and on, but I won't. The goal is to teach the child self-control. That takes more time for some to learn than others, but it is the ultimate goal.

Tough topics:

Not all children lie for the same reason. The kid that says she has a new baby brother when she doesn't may just be wishing for one and not trying to lie. The kid that says they like something when the really don't or vise versa may be saying that just to fit in or make someone else happy. The response from adults should be based on why the student is lying, not just what they are lying about. 

The same holds true with stealing. The kid that steals an extra apple from the lunch line may be greedy, but may also be genuinely hungry. Or the kid that swipes your glitter pens may have seen their parent swipe something from the store and really not realize she shouldn't do it. I had some sticky fingers one year and the DARE officer came in and talked to the class about the consequences of stealing. It never happened again.

There are several great books for primary grades about bullying. I have talked about it in general terms in my class and not focused on any particular student. I have found at this age, they genuinely do not know what they're doing is considered wrong. When we read about it in class and they see the consequences happen to the character in the book, it (usually) begins to sink in for that student. And the other students recognize the behavior and help their friend who is struggling.

Some of our favorite books to deal with bullying are:

Reflection: I started reading this book on our one and only "snow day" (there wasn't even any ice really) of the year. I was having a bad week at school but I was totally excited to see Donna Whyte at the ITeachK conference in Las Vegas this summer. I can't even begin to describe how excited I am. 

So I started reading and there weren't any major aha moments. These are very simple, common sense points. I had never mapped them out the way she does in her book. I've never even organized my thoughts on the topic this thoroughly. BUT I DID NEED TO READ THIS. And if you're reading all of my posts on this, you probably will want to read it too.

What I'm taking away from this: Take the time to remember why you went into teaching. What was your philosophy then? What was your passion then? What have you learned since then? ('Cause you know your idealistic philosophy in your naive, pre-teaching years have probably morphed and grown quite a bit since.) The best teachers have found balance between the passion that brought them into the profession and all the "stuff" we HAVE to do to keep our jobs. 

My guess is that you became a teacher to help children or to make a difference in the life of a child. As long as you are using that passion for good and keeping the needs of your children in mind, you are doing okay. Now I know there is a lot more that goes into teaching. There's curriculum, paperwork, data collection, mandates, observations, portfolios...the list goes on and on. But if your teaching reflects your passion for your students and their needs then you've got this. We all need a little pep talk every now and then. If you're needing some insight, time to reflect, or validation that you're doing alright, then go here and get her book.

Donna Whyte and I have not collaborated on any of these posts. I am not getting paid to review this book or post about it. I just really found value in her writing and I think many others will too. 

Thank you for reading all the way to the end. If you have any other insights to the book, please leave me a comment below. Thanks for following along with me. 


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