Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Calling Parents for Good Behavior

For those of you who don't know, I started a new teaching job. I'm teaching 13 3rd and 4th graders how to write paragraphs. I've been having trouble getting a couple of the students remain well behaved.

There is really just one student who attracts a lot of attention. He'll flip his sweater backwards, put his hood over his face, and pretend he's a zombie. He'll play in the bathroom. He'll make noises on the desk. There are probably other things as well. Those are the most recent examples.

So, at first, I said that if students work quietly for 5 days in a row, I'll give them a treat. That's been effective. I don't like that technique, but I'm desperate to get all of the kids to focus. That gets majority of the students to quiet down while working on an assignment. But, that one student still wants to draw attention to himself.

I've sent him out several times to chill outside, but he seems to become even less cooperative when I do that. I had the boss of the tutoring center that I work at to talk to him. The tone was not pleasant. It was very forceful. If anything, that probably upset this student even more which I think does not lend to the cause of having that student cooperate with me.

I gave my supervisor from my credential program a call. He gave me a couple ideas that make sense to me, but I'll just tell you the one I'm most fixed on right now. He suggested that I call parents in general, but not for bad behavior. Call them and tell them about their children's good behavior. The parents will become happy with the children. The children will be pleased with their parents' approval and they will come to school happy (as opposed to coming to school sad and upset because their parents got pissed off about their behavior). They're coming to school happy because of the compliments of their behavior that I would have given them. And so, they would be more cooperative.

Now, I was curious about this strategy. I still have a second job. I'm a teacher for an after school program called Adventure Time at Chabot Elementary. The first thing I do is go with one of my co-teachers to pick up the kindergartners. They were all lined up and waiting to leave while my co-teacher was collecting the remaining kindergartners. I figured that I have some interviewees captive, so I wanted to ask them how often their teachers called their parents to say good things about them. I asked this to students in 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade. Literally, no student said that teachers call to say good things about them. I asked all of the students that I interviewed whether they would like it if their teacher called to say good things about them. I asked 20 students. Three of them said they wouldn't want their teachers to call and say good things about them, but the remainder said they would like it.

For me, that solidifies my conviction to collect phone numbers, write down my observations of my students, and start making positive phone calls. If it seems to be effective in terms of my students' attitudes in class, I would like to make such phone calls a weekly thing. We'll see how it works out.

I only have one problem.... I can't speak Chinese. Every single one of my students' parents only speak Chinese. Oh well... I hope my boss will have time to translate for me. If not.... I guess I'll have to learn a little Chinese.

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