It doesn’t happen often, but every once in awhile I’m inspired to write a post because of something I’ve read on another blog. After reading this amazing post over a Teacher Tom’s blog, my mind couldn’t stop processing. His post is wonderful and it really got me thinking… so here we are.
The basics of Tom’s post is that by building relationships with students (and children in general – including your own) you remove the need for discipline. Now trust me, when I first read his post, knowing Tom works in a small cooperative preschool with few kids and lots of adults, my frist reply was, ‘Not so easy with a class of twenty and no help.’
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, he’s absolutely correct. This is exactly what I have always done and the basic tenant of my classroom management philosophy. By building positive relationships with sprouts, they begin to let me into the fragile, delicate cocoon surrounding them. Once they trust me and the relationship is viewed as positive, the need for ‘discipline’ as we normally view it, all but disappears.
Instead, when a child is making an unsafe, unwise, or disruptive choice, I’m able to get down on their level, look them in eyes and talk about the why behind the behavior. There’s no yelling, no judgement, no hard feelings, and certainly no punishment. What is there? Love. I care about you and our classroom and I want to make it better.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times, no doubt, when a child is being so disruptive (or unsafe) in the moment and they need to know it’s not acceptable. Using the Responsive Classroom ‘Rest Stop’ seat – children learn to self-regulate and return when they are ready. I am clear with children and parents from day one – our ‘Rest Stop’ is not a time-out seat. It’s not a punishment. I will never tell a child when to return, it’s up to them. Oh – and I’ve been known to visit the seat myself – sometimes even the teacher needs a rest.
I got into teaching because I love children and learning. I want kids to love school and view education as an amazing journey. I’m not in the business of yelling or commanding. As Tom so eloquently wrote, I’m not the boss of anyone but myself.