Coach B just released the newest version of "Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids", the manual to whole brain teaching in a K-6 classroom. I am reading it on my ipad using pdf Expert, and am loving that I am able to highlight important text using the highlighting tool! Such small things give me such joy! Ha!
I wanted to take a moment and jot down some of the most important points that really gave me an "a-ha!" moment. The three points in this post focus on WHY we need whole brain teaching techniques in the classroom. My next post will focus on HOW these techniques help to address our biggest teaching obstacles.
Point #1 (from pages 1 and 10): Coach really starts out strong. Right on page 1, I find a lighting-strike kind of big point. Coach probably took his glasses off as he wrote this one. He says, "If students' behavior could be controlled by angry adults, then kids from troubled families would be exceedingly polite." Such a profound statement. As a teacher, I tend to take misbehavior personally. My first instinct is to feel personally attacked by misbehavior. When I look back at my beginning years as a teacher, I asked myself over and over, "what is wrong with these kids?" But what I didn't realize was that I was what was wrong with these kids! MY behavior shaped their behavior - in the classroom anyway. I have worked over the past ten years to remind myself that misbehavior is just simply a student's way to earn the attention he isn't getting elsewhere. Any negative reaction that I have to student misbehavior simply adds to the negative behavior, it doesn't fix it. Continuing this point on page 10, Coach states that losing our temper with kids makes our teaching problem worse, it doesn't fix it. What must come first before fixing student behavior, is fixing OUR behavior; we need to fix the way we react to misbehavior before we can solve it. That doesn't mean there aren't consequences for negative behavior, it just means that we stop taking it personally. We have a system in place that both prevents it, as well as addresses it consistently, without more negative emotion attached.
Point #2 (from page 10-11): There are seven common mistakes that many teachers make, each outlined on these pages in the manual. I want to copy these pages and distribute them to every teacher in my district. Sitting in any lunchroom in any school across the country, I would bet that you would hear most of these mistakes being discussed everyday: "I really had to yell at Johnny today, he just won't sit in his seat!", "I"m not sure what I'm going to do in class today, I haven't done my plans yet!", "How many years do I have until retirement?", "I never take any work home with me, I leave right when the bell rings.", "I don't know why these kids can't turn in their homework, I always turned in my homework!", and the worst, "I have been doing the same thing for a long time, I don't need to change my lessons!". Teachers are so quick to complain about their students. Not because most teachers are complainers, but because most teachers just don't know what to do. Even in my school, which is a good school in a middle-class small town, many teachers just aren't equipped with the right tools to handle difficult students. It's the TOOLS that teachers need in order to be successful, and so many teachers have the heart but not the tools.
Point #3 (from page 25): "We believe there will be no substantial educational reform until administrators, specifically principals, roll up their sleeves, step into rebellious classes, and show teachers how to instruct unruly students." WOW. What an amazing point. Most teachers chose this profession because they want to help kids. As discussed above, some just don't have the tools to handle rebellion. Principals spend so much time reacting to discipline issues; they call students to the office, hand out punishments, etc. I've never been in a school where the principal actually stepped into the classroom to help a teacher fix an unruly class. Now maybe the reason is because teachers usually don't like other adults stepping into their kingdom. I've heard many teachers say that they shut their doors and enjoy their bubble of seclusion. Maybe that's part of the problem too. More collaboration needs to happen between teachers and administrators. Collaboration to share ideas, techniques, and strategies. Collaboration and action together. I've sat through MANY meetings where everyone spends so much time talking about what's wrong with Johnny that there's no time left to figure out what to do to help Johnny.
Coming soon...the "Big 7"...