When I was little, I had the Wonder Woman Underoos....of course, I had a vintage pair because I am still celebrating my 21st birthday, right?
When I stepped into the classroom, no one told me I might need my super powers again.....but we ALL do. Our kiddos often come into a completely different world when they step onto the school campus. They are thrown into a world with rules very different than home and they are expected to conform to those rules without question because we are the adult.
Most discipline models are built on the foundation of rules and for most teachers We Love Rules because we understand how those rules/procedures are essential to making our classrooms run smoothly. Our rules are usually upheld by consequences such a flip your color card or move your clip. The goal of consequences is to obtain obedience. Those who are compliant are rewarded and those who aren't are punished (receive a consequence). Fear is often the tool that the teacher uses to attempt to control the children. The teachers often rely on manipulation to get the children to behave a certain way. Even if the child knows, he/she can change his/her choices and move the clip back up, the brain still perceives the action as a threat and the child moves out of the frontal lobe of the brain where optimal learning and problem solving occur.
Conscious Discipline p. 12
Now, this does not mean that your kiddos are scared of you or that your classroom is not a well ordered, fun, and loving place. This also does not mean that consequences cannot be part of your classroom. But here are the beliefs a classroom built on rules reflects: Conscious Discipline p. 12
*It is possible to control others through environmental manipulations where you are the judge.
(This is moving clips, flipping color cards, treasure box, etc)
*Rules govern behavior.
*Conflict is a disruption in the learning process.
I am guilty of #1. When I used the "I like the way _____ is _____" I was manipulating the other children to copy the child I was focusing on and it worked....usually with everyone the majority of the time. So, I did say to myself Why do I need to change what I am saying when it is working? If you want to read more about moving away from judging with your words to noticing, hop over here.
I have also used rewards as a form of manipulation. I am guilty of still having a treasure box even though I rarely use it. I have said things like "You are being helpful. When you get back to the room, you may _____" When I said that, I knew I was feeling frustrated by the behavior of
all my squirrelly stinkers a few toots another child and I was wanting them to change their behavior. I know at times we often feel like we need to reward the kiddos who always are making good choices. But then I found myself realizing, what message does that teach them? I like you because you are good?
I know teachers already struggle with children who always seem to be asking what are they going to get if they do __________. When is the last time you got a reward for doing the laundry or a cop pulled you over and gave you a gift card because you were driving the speed limit?
When I started reading CD, I realized what messages my beliefs send. Yes, they are little and may not be fully understanding the message and yes, everything I teach is often "undone" when they go home and see completely different behaviors and beliefs. But I believe, God can use me in the time I have to make a difference. Yes, the conflicts our kiddos face at home are more than ANYONE should have to bear but I believe those are the kiddos that are crying out for our love and imposing tons of consequences on them is not teaching them the tools to find a better way to handle situations and their emotions. And neither will making excuses for their behavior...I believe you love them enough to let them know that what they are doing is not okay.
When it comes to #2, I disagree completely when I stop to think about it. At first, I want to say heck yes rules govern behavior. But as teachers, we know that modeling is a huge part of setting the expectations for our classroom. We cannot come up with a list of 5 rules, post them, and then expect everyone to follow them 100% of the time just because they are up there on the wall.... not even if we repeat them daily with cute hand motions. We cannot just say use your words because the words they choose to use may not be very nice or since they are frustrated because they still don't know what to say, they hit instead. In Our School Family, we don't have rules. We have our commitments and our heart promises. The way we go about learning them is very different than the way I have seen and read about rules being introduced into the classroom.
The big one is #3. I am sure I am not the only teacher that might breathe a small sigh of relief when Little Miss or Mr. Toot is absent for the day. It is sad but true that the absence of 1 child can make a HUGE difference in our daily classroom environment. There have been times when my mouth filter has popped off and I have said, "When you were absent yesterday, we didn't have anyone doing things that a bucket dipper would do. Hmmm, I wonder what that tells me." I did apologize to that
stinker kiddo later when we were having Counseling 101 Session 167.
When I first started using the language of CD, I felt as if I was running out of words because CD is all about talking right then and there. There are times when I have to help that kiddo calm down first because you need to remember: When a child is functioning in their brain stem, they are not hearing one single thing you are saying. They are in the fight or flight mode and your first priority is to get them to calm down. There is no go put your head down or go move your clip. You stop then. This was hard at first because you have 17+ other kiddos waiting on you as you try and help kiddo 1 and kiddo 2....but it will work and save tons of time in the future.
Here is the big WOW moment for conflict: Conflict is the opportunity to learn a missing skill or to let go of a limiting belief. Remember, the only person you can change is yourself. =)
When I first started reading CD, this question gave my brain the big AH-HA: Does our connection with others foster our respect for rules?
This is where the School Family comes in and one of the main reasons I fell in love with CD. The School Family is built on communication and connections where the goal is to create problem solvers. These problem solving tools will teach us how to respond instead of react to situations and the connections made in the School Family actually shape the structure and function of the brain. Your School Family will become a place where love is expressed through safety, cooperation and respect.
Are you still with me? Am I bunny hopping all over the place???
Put down everything you have been using while you fight battles in your Wonder Woman costume. Here are your 7 Powers of Self-Control: p. 15
*Remember change must start with you and these powers will help you be proactive instead of reactive.*
1. Power of Perception: No one can make you mad without your permission.
2. Power of Unity: We are all in this together.
3. Power of Attention: What you focus on, you get more of.
4. Power of Free Will: The only person you can make change is yourself.
5. Power of Love: See the best in others.
6. Power of Acceptance: The moment is as it is.
7. Power of Intention: Conflict is an opportunity to teach.
When you start to work on building these 7 powers within yourself, you will begin using the only 7 Skills for Discipline you need to handle conflict in your classroom. These skills promote a peaceful inner state in children where they are then free to learn, cooperate and help each other be successful.
Here are the 7 skills you will use to help be proactive to the situations that come up in your classroom. p. 15
1. Composure: Becoming the person you want the children to become.
2. Encouragement: Building a school family.
3. Assertiveness: Saying "no" and being heard.
4. Choices: building self-esteem and will power.
5. Positive Intent: creating teaching moments.
6. Empathy: Handling the fussing and the fits. One of my favorite and most used skills =)
7. Consequences: Helping children learn from their mistakes.
These 7 skills for discipline will then instill in children what CD deems the 7 basic social skills:
1. anger management
2. helpfulness (kindness and sharing)
4. impulse control
7. problem solving
When I look at those skills, I want them not only for myself but for the kiddos I teach. What good is learning and mastering curriculum skills and standards if you are a mean bully who cannot hold down a job because of your temper and your impulse control?
As we start this CD journey, we are only going to address the Power of Perception and the Power of Unity this summer. These are the powers that you will need to begin the school year and they are full of wonder ways to build your School Family. Throughout the school year, we will go through the other powers adding one at a time and having time to practice and implement them in your classroom. This is the way Becky Bailey has set up the CD journey.
I don't want to throw at you questions about Chapter 1 and the Power of Perception because I just gave you a lot to think about and digest. Be reflective but not critical of yourself. When I started, I got upset with myself for not doing a better job helping my kiddos learn these skills but I didn't know better...I had to accept that it is what it is and move on. If you find yourself, questioning the way you do something that is good. If you feel like you still want to hang on to your treasure box and clip chart, that is okay too! =)
I am not here to judge you or in any way put down what works for you. I just ask that you keep an open mind and heart. You will really be amazed when you start to see the changes not only in yourself but your kiddos too! =)
There will still be days when you say to yourself Becky Bailey needs to meet this little friend because she has no idea what I am dealing with! And there are days when I say Becky Bailey has left the building because I left all of my CD tools in the parking lot!
I am not the type of person that thinks I can find the power within myself to do great things. I know I can only change with God's help. I am not one to believe that everyone is special Oprah mentality. (I'll get into being "special" in another post). I want to be in the world but not of the world. If I can make a difference, it is because God is using me to do His work and all of the glory goes to Him.
With all of that being said, I do pray that God might use me to be a person in that child's life to can make a difference.
If you have any questions, please ask but also understand I am no CD expert and I have made adjustments according to my faith and beliefs. I also bring in a strong dose of reality. =)
I would love to hear your thoughts about this post and what you are learning from CD. Thank you for the encouraging heart notes that you leave. They make me smile....especially since my CD posts tend to take hours and hours to write! =)
Remember, the Pete giveaway too! =)
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From My Heart to Yours,