You might be thinking - "Hey wait a minute! What about the responsibility of the student? Teachers deliver the opportunity for success, but students need to step up and do their part." I agree 100%. But if you can get "that kid" to warm up, not only will they benefit, but your entire class will benefit also. Your days will be much more productive and enjoyable. The overall learning environment is enriched.
So how do we warm up "that kid" (or any kid)? Each student has his or her own characteristics which require an individualized approach in many instances. I've listed some of my strategies below. Some I've read, others I've developed as needed. It isn't a complete list, and many of the techniques which I use with my students may not apply to your situation. You probably may already be using many of them.
- Greet all your students at the door with a smile and warm comments every day. Always touch base with your "that kid". It helps them relax and you can assess their demeanor before you begin teaching.
- Teach in close proximity to "that kid" when needed. Sit next to them a few times a day.
- Monitor "that kid" as closely as you can - especially in non-classroom settings. If they know that you'll frequently show up in the lunchroom, on the playground, in the bathroom (if appropriate), etc., they are less likely to misbehave.
- Communicate to "that kid's" parents that you know their child is going to have a successful school year. Use a daily communication form so parents know how he/she is doing each day. Try to be as positive as possible on these reports. Usually these parents have heard many negative comments so they've become somewhat numb to them. Realize that they might be feeling guilty about their child's behavior issues. Try to put them at ease.
- Use all of the resources at your disposal to build a team approach with the student. Social workers, administrators, counselors, classroom aides, etc. can all help support your efforts, and often have fresh ideas that can be implemented.
- Talk to "that kid" about something other than school. Find out what interests them. Surprise them by taking out library books about topics they like.
-Try to use "that kid's" name in a positive way frequently. When he or she needs redirection, ask them if they're ok and/or whether or not they understand what they're supposed to be doing. I've found that this approach often results in them getting back on task more quickly than the "Why aren't you working?" comment.
- Look for any spark in "that kid" and then pour gasoline all over it. If they do something well, try to make them feel like an expert in that area. Ask them to help other kids who may need a partner. Catch them making right choices.
- Determine what subject or skill frustrates them, and turn a negative into a positive. Help them to overcome feelings of failure by giving extra assistance. It's time well spent. I recently had a student who hated quiet reading time, and would just look at the pictures in books. He would ask to use the bathroom, get a drink, etc. I got in the habit of reading next to him, and after a few weeks, he started really reading and finishing books. Later on, his only problem during silent reading time was his desire to discuss whatever book he was reading. Not a bad problem to have huh?
- Give "that kid" a job to do so they can experience success and a feeling of accomplishment.
- Talk to them about behavior issues on "their time" not "your time." Kids don't mind discussing behavior issues during lesson times right? It's amazing how well these kids listen during lunchtime, recess, before school, or after school (their time). I've discovered that giving up part of my "planning time" to address an issue pays huge dividends later.
- Surprise "that kid's" mom or dad with a positive phone call or comment at a school event. I remember recently telling a mom, "I noticed that _____ really has a lot of athletic ability." The mother's entire expression changed, and she talked with me for ten minutes about her son's accomplishments in baseball and basketball. It created a positive springboard for future communication.
- Show "that kid" that you trust them. This one can be difficult, but I promise you that it often causes the cold clay to heat up. At times, I'll purposefully leave something in the trunk of my car and give my keys to "that kid" and say, "Here's my car keys. Will you go out and get such and such out of my trunk and bring it to me right away? And don't even think about taking off in my car." Everyone laughs and "that kid" is empowered. "That kid" is the only one who gets my keys. (My classroom is next to the parking lot, so I'm watching the whole time.) I've found that most kids usually love to help.
- Let other teachers who have "that kid" in their class (art, PE, music, etc.) know how he/she is doing. Have the student bring a behavior plan so everyone is on the same page regarding the student's goals. If you can get other staff members to buy into your plan, you will see improvement.
- Have a sense of humor. Be light, not heavy. Laugh at yourself and let "that kid" laugh at you too sometimes. You're showing them that you're secure in who you are. You're sending the message that you enjoy your job and they are part of that enjoyment.
I find it interesting that so many "that kids" often return to visit me when they're in middle school, high school, or after they have graduated. Warming up the clay can be challenging, but it's exciting to see an enriched individual emerge from it! May we all continue to be enthusiastic clay warmers. Hike on!
Want to share this post? Click below.
Follow my blog for more cool ideas for teachers and kids. Thank you!