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07 February 2005: You Can Handle Them All (2 of 4)

Just identifying and describing student behaviors is not enough for the folks at , however. Each behavior description includes four steps to understanding the sources of the behavior and how a teacher can effectively help the student change their behavior.

First, we identify the behavior. This actually becomes a bit more complicated than it sounds, given that we have 117 choices!! Second, the website offers information on the projected effects of the behavior. Next, there is a section on reccommended actions for the teacher, including enumerating causes for the behavior. This section delves a little deeper into the why of unacceptable student behavior and gives lots of specific strategies for teachers. Last, there is a brief section on how to avoid common mistakes in dealing with the identified behavior.

Really, it's unbelievable how much this reads like a VCR instruction manual, but not in a bad way. The instructions are clear, easy to follow if you so desire, and include such insights as "you must do this first, before any other discipline strategy is attempted."

08 February 2005: You Can Handle Them All (3 of 4)

More than anything else, here's what I love about this website:

To use this model, you must be willing to focus on the total student and be prepared to respond in a professional manner in handling all student behaviors. Changing unacceptable behavior to acceptable behavior takes time and patience.

Yes! Yes! An entire website on student discipline that is based on the assumption that undesirable behavior is the EFFECT of student need, not the CAUSE for punishment! Truly, this taps into one of my fundamental passions about teaching: figure out what works for EACH kid. Acknowledging their individual needs presents a greater challenge to teachers, while also allowing for greater effectiveness when those needs are met!

There are other things I love about this website, though. First is the disclaimer-type information on the right side of every page: We are labeling behaviors, not children! There are other statements reflecting similar values, and I can get behind them all.

09 February 2005: You Can Handle Them All (4 of 4)

Overall, the advice that I read seemed very reasonable and much of it I know to be effective. All strategies are based on identifying the underlying student need, then offering positive behavior supports to encourage students to change their behavior. While I am completely into this philosophy, there are is one thing about the way it is presented that I would change.

The tagline: You Can Handle Them All. While it is encouraging and attention grabbing, I'm not sure it's the best philosophy. What about You Can Help Them All? Seems to me that "handling" is what people in dog shows do, not teachers.

Just like the commonly used "management," I don't like language that places all control and responsibility on the teachers. Teachers don't change student behavior, students do. Ironically, good classroom management requires student responsibility. Always, always, I value language that acknowledges student choice and action instead of teachers' control.

10 February 2005: A Great Idea and About Time (1 of 3)

Yesterday in a conversation with a colleague and former mentor teacher, I learned about a revolutionary new resource for public school teachers. She got twenty abaci (that's plural for abacus, I also learned) to help her Oakland third graders work on their basic adding and subtracting skills, while reinforcing number sense and place value.

Okay, well, to be fair it's not exactly new. Donors Choose a is a 501(c) non-profit organization that has been operating in New York for nearly four years, and has recently opened up to other areas where impoverished public schools are the norm. It was created by one guy--a teacher in the Bronx--who recognized the need for a new system of charitable giving.

I do believe this thing to be revolutionary, though, and Iím not the only one: The History section of the website calls this new model "the charity of the future." So, what's so great? Donors Choose has set up a system that successfully circumvents two of the largest factors hindering charitable donations to public school classrooms.

11 February 2005: A Great Idea and About Time (2 of 3)

First, Donors Choose takes the load off of the teachers. Where traditional systems require extensive grant-writing, committee work and the resulting neglect of other classroom responsibilities, Donors Choose requires teachers write a one page proposal. Thatís it. Just one page describing what they want to do (field trip, purchase books, art supplies), and the amount they need to fund the project.

Truly, I know a few teachers who are willing to put out significant effort to collect contributions of money and resources for their classrooms. Posting on community boards, in addition to the traditional grant-writing has been effective for some. But this? Who doesnít have time to do this? Heck, have the kids go online and do it themselves!

Then, on the other end, youíve got the donors. Jonathan Alter of the New York Times a suggests that in many cases, charitable giving is decreasing because it is somehow unsatisfying to write a check and have no idea how that money was used. Donors Choose certainly addresses that.

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teaching quote of the day

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.

- Chinese proverb

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