Read Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt
This book is a must read for any teacher. If your class is second grade or above, I highly suggest it as a read aloud. Trust me.
Teach your kids about their brains
I use the MindUp Curriculum. There are versions that are written for every grade level, but you can teach them about the PFC ( prefrontal cortex, or wise leader- helps us make desicions, pay attention, and be ready for learning), the amygdala (the security guard- keeps us safe; interrupts learning when we are hungry, angry, lonley, or tired (H.A.L.T.). Sometimes tried to keep us safe and overreacts, even when we are in the safe environment of school. Blocks learning that travels from the PFC to the hippocampus, and the hippocampus (scrapbook- where learning is stored- the hard drive of our brain).
I teach my kids growth mindset language EVERY DAY. Constantly. Seriously, I wish it had been proven effective when I was growing up. This year, I am practicing celebrating mistakes with my kids. We have a routine of exclaining “How Fascinating!” every time we make a mistake. I am always coming up with new ways to do this celebration- usually on the fly. Yesterday, as we marked up a reading passage to help kids code spelling rules- a star for bonus letters at the end of words (f,l,s, and z get “bonus letters”) and putting a box around glued sounds (all, ing, ung, ang, etc.) Instead of marking through the mistake or covering it up with whiteout, we used glittery washi tape. More fun for the kiddos, and definitely more fun for me. They LOVED getting a chance to cover up a mistake with the glitter. Today, when we completed the lesson, we didn’t even have to break out the tape, which gave me a chance to emphasize how mistakes really do help up learn.
I also teach them how fixing a mistake and learning from it helps grow their brain twice as much as just doing an activity perfectly the first time.
Teach them to be Professionals in Training
I love this framework that I learned from Amie Dean at behaviorqueen.com. She talks about how telling kids that their behavior is disrespectful is a slippery slope and can cause shame- if that is the only behavior that is modeled for them at home, then that word can cut DEEP. However, our ultimate goal is to teach kids to be successful in life- and to be a professional in some way. When we put behavior in the framework of teaching them to be professionals in training, then we have a great way to redirect behavior in a calm, mutually respectful, and genuine way.
Within this framework, we can also teach the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. As professionals, the BEST way to be successful is to spend 80% of our time doing that one thing (or two things, maybe) where we REALLY shine. Those things where we know we are successful, that we never mind practicing and learning about- that thing that people tell us we are good at, and that we are asked for advice about regularly. The other 20% should be spent improving in the areas that our roadblocks to our success. IF you spend time having kids dream and set goals around their strengths, then you have the perfect way to help them feel more successful, more connected (because knowing this information is HUGE in getting to know them, and in having them know that you care about what their interests are), and THEN, you have a way to help them understand what areas they need to improve in order to reach their goals. This is powerful for all kids- how much easier is it to reach a goal when you know WHY you are striving for it?
If you don’t believe me, check out this amazing TED Talk by Simon Sinek.
This is a great, easy daily check-in. I have done it multiple times some days. This is another great way to connect with kids, and know which kids need some extra TLC. Explain the thermometer (which is a great visual, but not totally necessary for this activity)- a 10 is the BEST DAY EVER- going to Disney World, getting married, etc. all the way down to a 1- WORST DAY EVER- losing a pet or a loved one kind of day. In the morning, and perhaps periodically throughout the day, say, “Temperature Check!” and hold up your fingers to show how you are feeling. All the kids will, too. Make a mental note of any student who is a five or less, and be sure to check in with them. I have gotten some great information from my kids this way, which has led to some teachable moments. I have had some kids who like to write down their number on a sticky note and put it on their desk- I love when they do this, and I am sure to comment on in when I walk by.
You can watch the replay of my scope here, or on iteachtvnetwork.com. Be sure to follow the network online and on blab and periscope for lots of amazing content for teachers.