Are you a teacher or a trainer?

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” (Michelangelo)

If a kid does not do their homework and they get a detention, what do they learn from the detention?
If a kid gets yelled at and lectured in front of the class, what do they learn from that?
If the kid loses points because they forgot their homework, what do they really learn from that?
If a kid fails a test and has to have a silent lunch, what do they learn from that?

When a kid does something “inappropriate” in your class, do you teach them, or do you train them?
Do you coerce? Or do you guide?
Do you punish? Or assist?
Do you give them less interaction with you and peers? Or do you provide more support?
Do you tell them what to do? Or do you ask them why they did it?
Do you push them away to the corner? Or bring them in close?
Do they learn what to do? Or why to do it?
Do you assume you know why a kid did something? Or get the full story before reacting?
Do you make decisions based on emotions? Or do you wait until your head is clear?
Do you close your mind? Or open your heart?
Do you try to crush a spirit? Or rekindle one that is dying?
Do they learn what not to do? Or what they should do?

Training is easy. Teaching is hard.
Having a list of rules that applies to everyone is easy. Treating each kid as an individual is hard.
Having a consequence for an inappropriate behavior is easy. Finding what triggered the behavior is hard.
Yelling at a kid during class is easy. Taking them aside and speaking softly to them after class is hard.

Be careful when you discipline your kids. I know it is really, really hard to talk with them instead of disciplining them. It might take 50 times. But each one of those attempts will be better than coercive management. For advanced teachers I recommend something even more drastic. Pull the kid aside, make like you are going to talk to him but don’t. Just sit on your butt and listen. There is no more powerful classroom management tool in world than listening with an open mind. Never do anything that will damage your relationship with a child. If you do, you can sit down and listen all you want, but you won’t hear anything.

Train your dog, teach you kids.

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” (Michelangelo)

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