Taken and adapted from
When the kids came into the classroom this morning I didn’t quite know where to begin. So I told them, “I don’t even know where to start, but we need to talk.”
I guess the best way to convey what I said to them is to try to write it.
“You know, lately I don’t like myself very much. I have no patience. I lose my temper easily…it doesn’t take much at all to make me mad. I rarely smile at you guys any more. I’ve been yelling. I was thinking that it was just me; that we’re getting near the end of the year and I’m tired. But this morning we had a faculty meeting before school. That’s a meeting where all of the teachers get together and talk. The same thing kept coming up, over and over, at every grade level: respect.
Do you notice that we’re all different than we were in September? To be honest, I’m really getting tired of students who think that they don’t need to stop talking when someone else is speaking, or follow directions and do what the rest of us are doing, or that it’s ok to just call out an answer and forget about giving anybody else a chance to think. Do you know, when I stand at the front door in the morning saying hello to you as you come into the building, only about a third of you bother to look at me or answer me? The rest just walk on by. Can you tell me what respect and disrespect look like? Tell me how we’re supposed to be treating each other, or not treating each other.”
A discussion followed that proved that they knew what I was getting at, even if they were having difficulty putting it into practice. Back to my monologue….
“Several years ago we started teaching you from a curriculum about character traits. Some of those lessons are not as concentrated as they used to be, but we’re going to bring it back in here. This month’s character trait is not respect, but it’s what we’re going to concentrate on in this class. I know you’re getting tired. I’m getting tired too. But you’re not allowed to do anything you want here just because you’re wearing out. I’M not allowed to do anything I want. So we’re going to work at treating each other respectfully. Music is supposed to be enjoyable, and I don’t WANT to be “Old Lady Rivera”. It’s not all your fault…but it’s not all my fault either. 9 more weeks. Finish strong.”
Then, in a complete change of lesson plan, I pulled out a song written by Theresa Jennings 21 years ago, called “Show Me Some Respect.” (Music K-8 Magazine vol. 1 #4.) The kids love the song, (the mark of a good composer…the kids love a 21 year old song,) and the lyrics are so discussable and relevant.
“You don’t have to like the way I think about things.
We don’t have to make our thoughts agree.
You don’t have to like the way I look, or what I say,
Just got to treat me with some dignity…..”
When I went out for recess duty after lunch, several of them made a point of walking out with me, taking my arm, saying (get this), “Good afternoon, Mrs. Rivera.” One of them even spent the entire recess talking to me.
(I didn’t have to say much.) :0) I could just tell though, for the rest of the class and through recess time, that they get it. Sometimes I think I may become a “teacher act”. But I get my best results when I’m just plain old me, and talk to them like I’d talk to anybody else. They can tell the difference.
Relationship. The best classroom management tool.