Friday, September 28, 2007

More Of What I Need To Know

These seem to come to me really easily after a couple drinks.

- If at first you fail, try something new. I don't mean in the sense that you give up, but with teaching it seems like there's at least a 50% chance that if your students don't get something you've taught them, it could be your fault. That's when you have to re-teach the material in a different modality or way. Ferg's the same. She likes to be pet all down her back sometimes. She gets it. But if she is feisty with me, I switch and only pet her on her head. Then she gets that.

- Routine is king. Ferg, for all her spontaneity, really likes routine. She's disappointed when Eric (accidentally or purposefully) kicks her off the bed at night. She knows the time of day she gets fed and will follow me into the kitchen. Routine is comforting to everyone, even Ferg. Students are the same way. It makes them feel empowered because they know what's going to happen. They won't be surprised and have it turn out badly. Why do you think pop quizzes suck so much? Yeah, Ferg might get angry if you surprise her the wrong way. I think students might too.

- The teacher has to work for it. Ferg has a box full of toys. Little mice with cat nip inside them, a jumpy alligator toy, and lots of midnight crazies. But her favorite thing to play with is a cork tied to the end of the string. Not only is it more of a challenge for her because I am ruthlessly tugging on the other end, but I'm actually participating. Students know when their teacher has checked out. They want their teacher to be on her toes, so that that they have to be on their toes.

- You just have to be tough. I don't really want to believe this one. But it's true. Ferg has had flea problems. In wanting to make myself feel better about giving her medicine, I bought all-natural green flea drops, sprayed tea tree oil on the rug, and fed Ferg brewer's yeast (all the home remedies). But the fleas didn't go. Our friend who's a vet told us that the all-natural stuff was actually just as bad for the cat as the real deal medication. And that stuff actually gets rid of the fleas.

In my quest to make myself feel better, I didn't treat the problem of the fleas by being tough. As a result, I got a bunch of flea bites (since Ferg sleeps in our bed). If the situation calls for it, I need to be tough with my students. Otherwise, they'll still have fleas and act out, and I'll get bit.

On a side note, Eric informed me that one way to get rid of fleas is to get rid of the cat. I guess that would be like sending a kid to the Principal's office or something? I hope not.


Camille said...

I like this Ferg/teaching connection.

plus, you just wrote a short summary of all the books I've ever read in Proteach about class management.
I agree with the tip about being tough too. I know it sucks a little bit to have to be strict sometimes but this leads us to another even more important tip:

-If being tough with them is in their best interest, they know this. The best part of teaching (at least for little kids and animals)is that they have unconditional love for you. If you need to be firm or strict with them, they take it to heart. They may even be upset with you or themselves for a moment. However, ten minutes later they're back to hugging you and making you drawings to put on your wall.

it's pretty awesome. I learned that two weeks ago. I tried too hard to be the "friend".. and now I'm the teacher that is taken seriously but still liked.

America said...

Thanks Camille. I hope someday I'll be a good enough teacher to get a disco party from my students.