Saturday, March 25, 2017

Brown and Yellow = Diversity

Throughout my life, I’ve had friends from all different races, cultures and religions. When I was a kid, my best friend, Lynn was African American, and we did everything together, we were true buds. So I learned at a young age that people are people are people.  As I got older, I became more aware of the predjuce around me and couldn't believe it. I just never understood how people could be so cruel just because of skin color. I joined many civil rights marches while in high school and college. 

In the school system where I taught, it was predominantly white, Christian middle class. So… I used to love telling the kids that I am Jewish, just to see their reactions. Some of them chuckled, others were amazed and shocked. Many said they had never met a Jew before. As our talk continued, I found out that some came from homes where parents had never met a Jewish person either.

Eventually, some students from urban communities were bused into our district which was a great way for our kids to learn a little about diversity. 

I’m going to share a lesson with you that will help students realize that people are people no matter the color of their skin or how they look. The idea is to promote students’ acknowledgement of cultural uniqueness, ethnic, racial and cultural heritage and to promote harmony among them.

Find a book or movie about a culture that is not the same as most of your charges. Begin a discussion about this culture and discuss the similarities and differences between the book’s characters and themselves.

Take them to the school library where they can find a book about a culture or race that is not the same as theirs. While reading, have them pay close attention to traits, desires and values that the characters have which are similar to themselves and their families. Have them take notes. 

They will then write a book report and put themselves in the place of one of the characters portrayed. They are to write it as if they are that person. Make sure that they include the following in their reports: How the person feels about his/her life, are they happy, what are some problems that they’ve faced, how have they overcome these problems, and how is their character similar to them? As a conclusion, they should add what they learned from this assignment.

Another idea you might use for the reports would be to have your kids write about a day in the life of one of the characters.

Once the assignment has been completed, have a class discussion about what they learned Talk  about how it felt to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Have they realized that people are both alike and different?

Book List that you will find helpful.
African American
The Watsons of Birmingham by- 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake
Monster by Walter Dean Meyers
Brown Girl Brownstones by Paule Marshall
Tituba of Salem Village by Anne Petry
Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee
Millicent Min Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa
Dominican Republic
How Tia Lola Came to Stay by Julia Alvarez
How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas
Jewish/Arab Palestinian Conflict
Samir and Yonatan by Daniella  Carmi
Habibi by Naomi Shihab
Running on Eggs by Anna Levine
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
The Circuit: Life of a Migrant Child by Francisco Jimenez
Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs
Native American
The Absolute Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Far North by Will Hobbs
A Group of One by Rachna Gilmore

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Disciplined Child is a Happy Child

I’ll never forget the book I read back in college called, Discipline Without Tears, by Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs. “It provides a clear, constructive outline of his proven strategies for dealing with a wide range of childhood misbehaviors. Believing that children are social beings who want to belong, Dreikurs stresses encouragement, cooperation, and firm control in a democratic alliance of parents, teachers and children." Dreiker’s book has had a long lasting effect on me and my discipline techniques were based on what he said and I would highly recommend reading it.

I can’t express enough that one of the worst things a teacher can do is to prejudge a class or a student before they even enter the room. Let’s face it, some kids get along better with some teachers than they do with others, so it’s better to listen but with a grain of salt and make your own judgment.  I once had a young man come into my class with a really bad reputation, I was told that he had a bad attitude, didn’t listen, and yada yada yada yada. Needless to say, this boy was one of my favorite students. Sure he was talkative and questioned everything, he fooled around, but I loved his personality and sense of humor. He was an excellent student, a hard worker, and really cared about learning. What more could I ask for. His parents were, however, going through a divorce, and I always took this into consideration when working with him.

Tip # 1
Let your students know that you care about them. Talk to them, find out what is going on in their lives. Are they from a broken home, did one of their parents die, are they going through a divorce, is there drug abuse in their family? There are so many reasons why children act out and these are only a few. I always try to put myself in their shoes and know that if I was going through some of the things that they’re dealing with I wouldn’t be able to concentrate or listen during class. I’d be thinking about the pain that I was going through. Many times kids will act out because they need attention, that they don’t receive at home. You might be the only one who takes the time to listen. This is why I love holding morning meetings. They can get what might be bothering them off their chests and be able to settle down for the rest of the day. It will make your life and theirs so much easier. Once the kids realize that you are there for them and you have their best interests in mind, they will do anything that you want, which includes appropriate behavior. 

Tip #2
I’ve found that the kids want discipline, they want to follow rules, this helps to make them feel safe and secure. They like knowing what is expected of them. Ask what would happen if there were no rules. Most of them will say that nothing would get done, or that there would be chaos with everyone doing what they wanted. Then spend time setting up classroom rules with them. Ask for ideas, write them on the board, then vote for the ones that you all think are important. Help them to come up with consequences for their actions. This way, the kids will be heard, they will be making their own rules and most will follow them. 

Tip #3
Be fair, set up consequences that fit the crime so to speak. Make sure that all of the children are treated the same way. One rule that I’ve found to be very effective is 3 strikes and you’re out. If you have to talk to a child 3 times during one period, there is a consequence, if he/she misses 3 home works in a semester, there is a consequence, if he or she is disrespectful, or bothers another child, there is a
consequence, and so on. Be consistent, don’t give them chance after chance, they know the rules and if they choose not to follow them, it is their decision. 

NEVER show favoritism, the rules are for everyone. Let’s face it, we’re all human, we like some kids more than others, the trick is not to let them know. We don’t want to hear, ”Mrs. Smith likes Johnny better than me. He can do anything he wants and never gets in trouble.  Be firm, don’t raise your voice, let them know that you are in control in a kind and loving way.

Tip #4
Keep in close contact with parents and or guardians.  Parents want to know when their little one has broken a rule, but they also like to hearwhen they have shown good behavior, have aced a test, have done a fantastic job on their homework, or have been kind to another student. Send a happy gram home, let everyone know how pleased you are. This helps to establish a good rapport with both parents and kids. They will know you care and will realize that you want what is best for everyone involved. It will make your life so much easier.

After grading a test, I will write a note to the student about their how they did. Even if they fail, I will always write something positive

Tip #5

Lets say that Joey is a very needy child who constantly requires your attention, he is disruptive, causes arguments with others, can be a bully, you know the type. Sometimes the best way to deal with this behavior is to ignore it, and you need to teach the rest of the class to do this by rewarding them for not paying attention to him.  Peer pressure can truly be effective since everyone wants to be accepted. If the rest of the class really gets disgusted with Joey, some of them may actually talk with him about his actions, and this is more effective than you having to say something. This technique will work if the kids know that you care for them and are fair because their ultimate goal is to learn..

I've created a behavior modification bundle that can be utilized in a way to effectively help with discipline problems. 

Character Building


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