Here at SCM we maintain a long list of article requests.
We don’t, however, typically choose from the top of that list.
The way it works is that when we receive a request, we first check to see if anyone has made a similar one.
If so, we place a check mark next to that topic on the list.
The topics with the most check marks get covered first. However, it’s important to point out that we don’t write solely based on article requests.
We feel an obligation to provide an A-to-Z education in effective classroom management.
We view our website and free email membership as a continuing course in the principles and strategies that make for an exceptionally well-behaved classroom.
Therefore, we also choose article topics with this goal in mind.
This week’s article fits both criteria. It had the greatest number of requests of any topic we had yet to cover, and its proper use is a key component of an effective classroom management plan.
Over and over readers asked us what they could do to limit the number of warnings they’re giving out.
The good news is, as strange as it may seem, it can be an indication that things are going well in your classroom.
Providing that the great majority of your students are heeding this initial consequence and not progressing to the next, it’s an indication that they’re taking your warnings as they’re intended.
It’s an indication that consistently following your classroom management plan is working and that your students enjoy being in your classroom.
Now, it’s natural to be concerned of students taking advantage of the grace a warning offers.
It’s natural to conclude that perhaps the reason you’re giving out so many warnings is because your students realize that there is no real consequence attached to it.
In other words, they see it as a freebie, as a way of getting away with one act of misbehavior a day.
But this is scarcely the case. If you were to take a close look at their motivations for misbehaving, you’d discover this concern to be unfounded—particularly among elementary-age students.
The truth is, it never occurs to them.
The reason you’re giving out so many warnings is not because your students are taking advantage of them. The reason is because the purpose of the rule being broken isn’t embedded deep enough.
For example, no matter how many times you’ve said that raising your hand is important, they still don’t quite get it. They know they’re supposed to raise their hand, but they don’t understand it emotionally.
They don’t appreciate the critical importance of it.
The first step to correcting the problem is to determine which rule or rules are triggering your warnings most often.
Once you’ve determined the problem area, you must set about correcting it by modeling and reteaching that particular rule (or rules) in a much more detailed way.
You have to put them in your shoes while you’re trying to teach a lesson. You have to put them in their classmate’s shoes while they’re trying to listen or line up or enjoy their school day.
You have to create an experience through which they can feel the frustration of being on the receiving end of their disruptions. You have to open their eyes to how their behavior affects everyone around them and why the rule is so doggone important.
Only by seeing themselves as others see them will things change. Only by identifying with the exasperation of others will they understand the true purpose of the rule. Only through the lens of empathy will they view the rule as you do.
Once they grasp that receiving a warning is less about them and more about the rights of their classmates to learn and enjoy school, their behavior will change.
But you must paint a vivid picture. You must model an explicit and compelling scene.
You must evoke the depth of understanding, the empathetic view outside of themselves, the ah-ha moment that illuminates the truth that a warning isn’t just a courtesy you offer them.
But a way to protect the fun and peaceful classroom they love being part of.
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