Monday, March 31, 2008

Classroom Management

The first year I taught school was um...challenging. I got the "most difficult class the school had ever seen" - that's what I was told after my first day. By Christmas I was ready to quit, but I fortunately had some amazing mentors, who gave me a variety of management strategies, tricks, systems, etc. One thing I found that this group of kids loved was being read-aloud to. I should have counted how many books I read to them aloud, but it was A LOT. I would read to them as a class for rewards for good behavior, but I also found that when I was reading they were QUIET and STILL and FOCUSED. It was a miracle!

Being a mom with kids is much the same thing. You've got to be prepared, have a plan and be really patient in order to see some success. Our challenge lately has been bedtime. We've got a great routine and the kids know it by heart. I don't know whether they get silly when they are tired or if they are just burning off all the extra energy or what, but they get WILD during said routine. The sad thing is, I remember we were the same way when we were kids. I'm sorry, Mom! It's like herding cats, honestly. If one is getting teeth brushed, the other is making a mess with the toothpaste, and EVERYTHING is funny. EVERYTHING. It's not so funny for me, especially if it's a solo night for me.

One thing I learned about consequences is that it has to be something that will "hurt". Something that they hold dear, that will make an impact when it's taken away. The only thing that falls into this category at this time of night is story time. Take away story time, and their toddler world has come to a screeching halt. I really enjoy story time. They are STILL and QUIET and it's one of those times when I feel like I've got a handle on things.

The other night, after about five minutes of crazy kid-ness, JB (who is not a trained teacher) ripped a piece of paper into six pieces and said, "These are your story tickets. If you are silly while we are reading scriptures and saying family prayers, I will take away a ticket. If you lose one ticket, you only get two stories, if you lose another ticket, you only get one story, etc" It was sheer genius, and I wondered why I hadn't thought of it!

It worked really well, especially for Boo. Yaks lost two tickets, but managed to hang in there and get one story. The next night he only lost one, and last night didn't lose any.

The other challenge we've had is taking TURNS. Not necessarily with things like toys or games, but things like blessing the food, or helping stir, or choosing the snack, etc. You know, really critical things like that.

I want to keep things fair, but I also don't want to have to think about whose turn it was last. Hence, the Whose turn is it? wheel.

Haha. I'm laughing just typing this! Feel free to think, "Amy has lost her mind." Whenever we have something that only one person can do (it's usually praying), I can simply turn to the wheel and say, "Let's see whose turn it is." They seem to take what the wheel says as the final say in all matters, and they never cry or argue or whine when it has spoken. It's a beautiful thing. An admittedly odd, but beautiful thing.

*Far Side comic by Gary Larson


laurenthequeen said...

Genius ideas! I love it.

It's nice to have someone or something else be the bad guy. We had our nighttime routine down pat, but with all the changes we need to be better about it before the bedtime meltdowns get out of hand.

Sarah said...

Great! No you have not lost your mind. I think anything that brings a little bit of interest for the kids to do what they are supposed worth it. Anything that works. When Paige gets old enough to understand the whole "whose turn" thing I think the wheel might prove useful here!

love.boxes said...

Wow! Amy.. you are a very talented mother/teacher (it must be both!). I loved this post!

I also think that reading aloud to kids is so important. I still read to c sometimes and I encourage her to listen to books on tape quite a lot. The result is that she is a fantastic reader (silent and aloud) and she can really act out a story with her voice because she has listened to the professionals. My friend Michelle recommended this to me and the benefits have just kept piling on. It's been amazing.

steph said...

I love it! The 'lose a story' consequence STILL works for my 6 year old! I'm so glad to hear that my kids are not the only ones who are silly during scriptures and prayer: "Please don't lick your sister in the prayer." Brooklyn prays, "Please help Olivia to stop standing on her head in the prayer." The fun goes on and on. I love the ideas and the visuals to go with them. You're awesome.