You Can Be a Teacher, Too
Part 1: Basic Skills for All Teachers
Part 1 Table of Contents
The Three Cardinal Laws of Teaching
A. Don't teach a skill that has already been learned.
This annoys students.
B. Don't teach a skill that will never be used.
This bores students.
C. Don't teach a skill until the student is ready.
This frustrates students.
Edwin Lint, MA
Educator and Author
Main Table of Contents
This will be a very informal book so let's start off by getting acquainted. My name is Ed and I like my friends to call me that. Don't think of me as a teacher or principal or even an author. Think of me as a friend, a friend who wants to share some important information with you about teaching.
You have known people who have done an excellent job teaching you things, but who have had no college degrees, no certificates, and no status as a professional educator. You have known other people with college degrees and teacher certification, but these people have no real ability to teach anything to anyone.
What makes the difference?
These guidelines will explain what can make that difference and show how you can be an effective instructor or teacher, even without professional training and certification as a teacher. First, let me introduce myself, and explain my personal qualifications. This is not to brag. However, you have a right to know that I'm not just writing off the top of my head. Although this book is designed to show how you can be an effective teacher even though you've never been to college a day in your life, I do have a college education and state teaching certificates.† Therefore, I am qualified to say in this book what I am going to say. I have a Master's degree in education administration and six education certificates from two states. I have over 36 years experience as a professional educator and have worked as a teacher, supervisor, principal, assistant superintendent, and education advisor for a state department of education. Right now, I'm an educational consultant specializing in the areas of curriculum development and microcomputer utilization.
The following state education certificates hang on my office wall, to my left, as I write this:
- ††† Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction
- ††† Elementary Principal
- ††† General Elementary Supervisor
- ††† Supervisor of Special Education
- ††† Elementary Teacher
- ††† Special Education Teacher
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You Can Be a Teacher, Too can be downloaded to your desktop!
Self-Evaluation ChecklistNow, let let's find out about you. I'd like you to think about your own abilities by completing the self-evaluation checklist shown below.
Check each item that describes you. And Please Relax and tell the truth! No one will see this self-evaluation but you! Unless, you send it to me or show it to someone else.
[ ]†† I am intelligent. I may not have a high IQ but I am able to learn new things. [Intelligence is defined here as the ability to learn new things, not the amount of knowledge you already have.
[ ]†† I have horse sense. In other words, I am a stable thinker. I have street smarts.
[ ]†† I have a college degree, but it's not in education.†
[ ]†† I have a high school diploma, but no formal training as a teacher.†
[ ]†† I know a good teacher when I see one. I may not be able to put my evaluation into technical terms but I still know good teaching when I see it.
[ ]†† I know when teachers are doing a good job with my children. This is true even when I can't spend a lot of time in the classroom during school.†
[ ]†† I am a parent and want to help my children with their homework. I want to help them when they need help, not just do it for them.†
[ ] I am a parent who is home-schooling my children (by teaching them at home.) I don't have any professional training as a teacher, but I still want to do a good job as their teacher.†
[ ]†† I am a teacher's aid. Sometimes I see my teacher doing things that don't look like good teaching to me. With just a little training, I think I could do as good a job as my teacher, or maybe even better.†
[ ]†† I am a Sunday school teacher, scout leader, or other type of volunteer teacher. I like to work with children in my spare time, and want to do the best possible job I can in helping them to learn new things.†
[ ]†† I am a corporate trainer or in-service training coordinator. My job description involves helping new employees develop basic skills and current employees master advanced skills.†
[ ]†† I am a supervisor on my job. In addition to overall supervision, I am responsible for training my employees to do things.†
[ ]†† I am a businessperson who is good at my job. I'd like to teach high school kids the things I have learned out here in the real world.†
[ ]†† I am an elected member of a school board. I take my job seriously and want to help the children in our community get the quality education for which their parents are paying taxes.†
[ ]†† I am a member of a steering committee at my school. We're working on a district-wide program to improve the quality of our education. I want to help but I'm not sure I know what I'm talking about.†
[ ]†† I am thinking about a career in education. All my life, I've dreamed about being a teacher. I'd sure like to get off to a good start.†
[ ]†† I have been appointed or hired into an administrative capacity. However, I have no training or experience in how to supervise and evaluate teachers or other education personnel.†
[ ]†† I am ready to graduate but goofed off during a lot of my classes. Although I'll be qualified to teach on paper, I'd like a chance to catch up on what I missed out on while I was goofing off.†
[ ]†† I have a relative/friend who really needs this book. I will read it and pass it on to them.†
[ ]†† I'm now in my first teaching job, and I'm scared. I have all the credits and hold a certificate, but there's a lot I still need to know.†
Now look back over your self-evaluation. Each time you've checked an item, this is an indication that you need to read You Can Be a Teacher, Too.
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The Three Cardinal Laws of Teaching
These three laws are most frequently broken because it is easier and cheaper to teach the wrong way, not because teachers are not intelligent enough to do it the right way. Outcome-based education (OBE), as described in Appendix C, is specifically designed to make it easy to follow these rules.
Federal law mandates that all school-age persons with a mental or physical disability as described in the law must have a written individual education plan (IEP). Such an IEP must include instructional outcomes, methods and materials for achieving those outcomes, and expected levels of achievement for those outcomes. This enables the student as well as the teachers and parents to know when an outcome has been achieved.
Common sense dictates that all students should receive this kind of education. However, the sad fact is that individualized instruction is rarely provided for any students, exceptional or otherwise. While it is true that exceptional students who are covered by Federal mandates almost always have a piece of paper in their files, which is labeled IEP, that piece of paper is seldom a working document. All too often, the IEP is nothing but a compliance document which has little cause and effect relationship to the instruction, which is actually being provided for the student, involved.
Ed Lint's Three Cardinal Laws of Teaching require it for all students. Federal mandates or not:
Don't teach a skill that has already been learned.
This annoys students.
When you're not sure of the student's ability, do a little testing first. Then, start your instruction at the current ability level and move up from there. This pre-testing may be very informal but it should be based on what you see the students can do, not what students say they can do. Sometimes this rule is broken because the teacher wants to review.
Don't teach a skill that will never be used. This bores students.
What's a young child's favorite question? "Why". It's yours, too. We all want to know why and we ask "why" questions a thousand times a day. If you can't give a decent answer to the "Why do I have to learn this?" question, skip that lesson until you, the teacher, know why. If you never learn why, never teach it. Unless the boss tells you to, and then let him/her answer the "why" question.
Don't teach a skill until the student is ready.
This frustrates students.
The way to find out is to ask the learner to show you what he already can do. Maybe he knows the first step in the lesson. And the second, the third, and the fourth, too. So much the better, start at the fifth step and go on from there. There s nothing more boring for the learner than to have to muddle through a lot of things he already knows.
Most children come to school loving it. I have two grandchildren who just started First Grade last Tuesday, and they love it! How long will it take until they start to dislike it?
When they start getting bored. Being annoyed. Being frustrated.† Thatís When!
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The Four Basic Skills of Effective Teaching
You need these skills regardless of the age or circumstances of the students involved: day care ... kindergarten ... elementary school ... middle school ... high school ... college ... graduate school ... pre-service and in-service training-- there are no exceptions to these rules.
If you fail to master these four concepts, you'll never be an effective teacher, regardless of the number of college degrees you earn or professional certificates you acquire.
Some of the examples and illustrations given in these pages involve relatively young students. If you teach older students or adults, make the necessary adjustments for your students.
By the way, I'll usually use the term student when talking about the persons you teach. The term children infers a relatively young chronological age. The term students can apply to persons of any age that are in a learning situation. Since you are reading this book, you are a student. I will never cease to be a student. I like to learn at least one new thing every day of my life, and I was born March 10, 1934.
Here are the four keys to good teaching, listed in order of importance:
This is your ability to treat other persons as you like to be treated, as the Bible states in the Golden Rule.
This is your ability to transport ideas, concepts, and facts from your brain to someone else's brain.
This is the accumulation of information that you are responsible for conveying to your students. If it's not in your brain, you need to know how to teach † your students to find it so they can get in their brain.
This is your ability to structure the learning environment so all students have a chance to learn. If you've mastered skills one through three, number four pretty much takes care of itself.†
with Adults versus Children
You say you're working with adults and don't need to know anything about such things as control?† Stay with me.† We'll see about this as we go along.† I predict you'll be amazed how much of what you feel is directed to those that work with children can also apply to those that work with adults.
I can still remember my first day on the job as a professional educator, back in late August of 1958.† The school district I was going to teach for had called a meeting of all teachers so we could get information for the coming school year.† Let me describe that meeting:
All t he teachers were talking to each other in their outdoor, not indoor, voices.
They had pulled the chairs out of their orderly rows and clustered them into informal coffee klatches.
The first thing I learned that day was that the primary difference between students and teachers was their physical size.† [That didn't even apply to many high school students and their teachers.]
You may have developed, or learned, these skills in the school of hard knocks. Or, you may have acquired these skills in a formal teacher-training program in college. Regardless of how it happened, if you have these skills, you are an effective teacher. If you do not demonstrate these skills in the way you deal with your students, you are not an effective teacher. I know that's blunt. But that's the way it is.
If you're reading this book on the fly, stop and jot down these four words:
† 1. Compassion
† 2. Communication
† 3. Content
† 4. Control
Later, when you have more time, you can come back and read the fine print.
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Good teachers like people. In other words, good teachers are people people. They like people in general and students in particular. This doesn't mean good teachers never get annoyed at what students do. However, this momentary annoyance is never translated into psychological or physical abuse. Teachers who don't like students should find other areas of service.
Perhaps you are still in high school and are considering a career as a professional educator. I want to talk with you specifically for the next paragraph or so. The rest of you can tune in also, if you want.
By now, you surely know if you like people well enough to teach them. If you're serious about a career in education, your budding resume should show some evidence of this career preference. If it doesn't, it's not too late to start volunteering right now. Your church and Sunday school, the scouts, the Little League, or even your school district may be looking for help in working with kids. Don't wait until you take student teaching in your senior year of college to discover that you really don't like kids well enough to teach them. By then, it may be too late to make a career change without a significant loss of time and money, to say nothing about your own self-esteem.
The effective teacher must:
Develop a positive relationship with the learner
This can happen best in a one-to-one situation outside the structure of the formal learning environment. Make sure you know the student's name and that he/she knows yours. Find out his/her interests, favorite things to do, and information about the family. It is easier to communicate with and control a student who knows and respects you as a person.
Make the learner feel at ease in the learning situation
Be friendly, smile a lot, and even crack a joke or two.
That makes sense, doesn't it? If someone is going to learn something, it'll come easier if he feels comfortable. And I don't just mean soft chairs and the right temperature, although that is part of it. I mean feeling comfortable with you. Be relaxed, be friendly, and let the learner see that you have warm feelings about him/her as a person. Don't try to sound like you think teachers should sound. Relax and be yourself.
As a principal, I've had a lot of trouble over the years in getting new teachers to stop sounding like a teacher and start sounding like a person. You'll have to watch this problem, too. The minute you think about the fact that you're teaching, you'll want to sound like a "teacher". You know, that loud and funny tone of voice which teachers use. Kind of like the Barney Fife syndrome.† I hate that! Learners do, too. Forget that and just be you. Everything will go a lot easier.
Be alert for signs of physical discomfort or illness
Never deny a student his/her right to use the rest room as required. (Younger students should be encouraged to use the restrooms during pre-session.) If you suspect students are finding the restroom more interesting than your class, do something about your class. You don't have to be a certified teacher to know that no one learns well when all powers of concentration are focused on the constricture of the sphincter muscles. I'm not sure how this fixation on restricting access to the restroom got such a prominent place in education theory. It's surely not born out of compassion.
Avoid sarcasm and ridicule
Since you are striving to place the learner at ease, these attitudes and actions have no place in the learning environment, unless you're a drill instructor and teaching at Quantico. The military establishment seems convinced that it takes sarcasm and ridicule to make good soldiers. (I'm not sure that's true, but it's too late to change things now.)
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The ability to share ideas with others is critical to the teaching process. A gifted musician or athlete may have the ability to perform but not the ability to teach someone else to perform. At the same time, another musician or athlete can be an average performer while teaching the gifted performer how to do a better job.
Every once in a while, you'll find an expert in a specific area who is also an expert communicator. That person is more precious than rubies in the educational environment.
Effective teaching is hard work. The teaching process is mentally and physically exhausting, when you're doing a good job. Right now, I'm talking about the communication process, especially. The business of getting information from your brain to the brains of your students is hard work. When folks talk about how good teachers have it, working five hours a day, for ten months a year -- forget it. The teacher who is an effective communicator is equal parts of showman, clown, actor, mime, and orator. And a five-hour day? Forget that, too! No full-time teacher worth his/her salt works a mere five hours a day.
Here is a frequently-quoted fallacy:† "Those who can -- do. Those who can't, -- teach."
Here is the truth of the matter: "Some who can do, can also teach. Some who can do a little, can teach a lot. Some who can do a lot, can't teach at all."
To be an effective communicator, you must master the following processes and concepts:
Begin with the known and relate it to the unknown.
Regardless of your theological orientation, history records the fact that Jesus Christ was a Master Teacher. He was at His best when He taught with parables. A parable is taking what is "known" and relating it to the "unknown."Jesus had less than four years to teach twelve men His basic philosophies. Although these men, known in the Bible as disciples, were intelligent, there is no record that they had any theological training (excluding the Apostle Paul). So, what did Jesus talk about when he was teaching His disciples? The simple things of life which were known to all: "bread", "water", "light", "salt", "sheep", "doors", "farmers", and "families".
There is an activity in Appendix A that you can use to test your ability to communicate with the learner by relating to things that are known.† Appendix A shows a simple diagram, made up of a triangle, a rectangle, a circle, and a straight line. All elements of the drawing are adjacent to each other and are labeled A, B, and C.
Seat three people at a table and stand in from of them. Keep your picture of the diagram out of sight. Tell them how to reproduce your diagram on their paper, using simple instructions. Don't respond to any questions except "Will you repeat that, please?" Don't look at their papers while they're still drawing. When you say "Draw a box," the unanswered questions may be: "How big is the box?" How should I hold my paper?" "Do you want an outline or a 3-D picture of a box?Next you might say "Draw an outline of a shoe box." Now the unanswered questions will be fewer because your students already know the shape of a shoebox. You will be on your way to being an effective communicator when you can get a small group of adults to reproduce your diagram in the proper size and configuration on their paper. Now try it with children.
Adjust your presentation to the initial learning level of the students.
Not only do you need to begin with the known, you need to start with demonstrations and activities with which the students can have instant success. Example: When teaching students to read, at least 93 percent of the words used in the lesson should be words they already know. The Flutophone Demonstration in Appendix B illustrates this concept.
Remember that you have not taught until the learner has learned.
When my youngest daughter was failing algebra in high school, my wife, Nancy, and I had a conference with the teacher. I pointed out that the failing grade had to be shared equally between student and teacher. Since Jessi was intelligent and had excellent language skills, there was no reason why she couldn't learn algebra. Therefore, it was up to the teacher to find teaching methods that could communicate algebra facts and concepts from the teacher's brain to the student's brain. Teaching and learning go hand in hand.
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In mastering general content, you must:
Know what your students need to know when your instruction is over.
Many educators refer to this process as "Outcome-Based Education". Unfortunately, outcome-based education has developed a bad reputation in some circles because if has been unfairly paired with liberal philosophies of education, religion, and politics. See Appendix C for the Facts Concerning Outcome-based Education. For now, you need to know that good teaching always is aimed at the outcome, not the method. The terms Outcome and Objective both relate to the concept of knowing the target of your teaching, and can be used more or less interchangeably.
Know the difference between Learning Objectives, Methods, and Materials.
The "Learning Objective" is the specific skill you are teaching. A Method is a game or activity that you use to help your students achieve the Learning Objective. "Materials" are the tangible things you use to carry out the Methods as you move the students toward the Learning Objective. A piece of chalk is a material. Playing a game on the chalkboard may be a method. This difference between Objectives and Methods/Materials is a fairly simple concept, but many teachers fail to understand the distinction. Teachers often decide on what to teach based on the contents of their closet, or the items listed in the school supply catalog - rather than the educational needs of their students.
Be able to break a lesson into sequential learning objectives.
The "sequence" is the order in which you will teach the tasks.
Here's a simple process for writing and sequencing objectives. Example: You want your students to be able to cook an egg.
A. Separate that task into its separate sub-tasks. Use 3x5 cards to write down the things you want the students to learn, one item per card. Use objectives only and not methods or materials. "Play musical chairs" is not an objective, it's a method. Don't worry about what comes first or last at this time. Just write. Leave the top inch of the card blank for rewording the objective later.
B. Now write an objective at the top of each card, and begin each objective† with a present-tense verb. Comment for trained teachers: Resist the habit of beginning each objective with a stock phrase such as, "The student will be able to". Such surplus verbiage just clutters up the scenery without saying anything significant. Of course you want the "student to be able to..." That's a given. The purpose of education is to help students to be able to do things. When you begin each objective with a verb, you get the action up front where you and the student can see it. In the example below, you are teaching students to prepare an egg sandwich:
Lays out and spreads bread†††
Breaks yoke with spatula†††
Mixes yoke and white slightly†††
Watches for yoke to turn dull and white to turn "white"†††
Loosens edges of egg with spatula to minimize sticking†††
Holds panhandle with one hand and flips egg with other†††
Straightens edges if they get folded under†††
Turns off heat†††
Removes egg from pan and places on bread†††
Cracks egg on edge of stove or counter†††
Presses thumbs into crack, presses gently, opens egg†††
Drops egg's contents into preheated and greased pan
For a young child, it wouldn't be unusual for the last three steps to be learned months after the first part of the sequence since they are the hardest and as far as a stove is concerned, the more dangerous.
C. Last, put your 3x5 cards in the order in which you wish to teach the objectives. You can sequence your objectives in order of difficulty or logical order. When preparing an egg, the hardest thing to do may be to crack the egg - without making a mess.
Identify appropriate methods and materials for teaching specific learning objectives.
Here lies a major pitfall for the untrained (as well as trained) teacher. Do you use a method or material because it is familiar, readily available, and popular with the students? Or do you seek out methods and materials that are ideally suited for helping students reach a particular objective?
In outcome-based education, each method and material is specifically selected as being best suited for helping the students achieve a particular objective.
Avoid justification after the fact when planning methods to achieve objectives.
Several years ago, I had a phys ed department in an elementary program that played kickball all the time. In nice weather, they played kickball outside. In nasty weather, they played kickball in the gym. But it was always kickball. When I exercised the rights and responsibilities of a principal and asked why the students were getting a steady diet of kickball, I got a massive dissertation on the physical and mental benefits of playing kickball. The truth of the matter was, kickball required minimal preparation and instruction, since all the students already knew how to play. First, these teachers decided they were going to play kickball. Then, after the fact, they listed all the virtues of playing the game. If they had really applied themselves, they would have found other activities that would have been more beneficial than kickball.
Adjust methods and materials to meet the learning styles of the students.
A method or material that worked with last year's group may not be suitable for this class. The seminar leader may have had a great idea but it just won't work for you. Tailor your methods by adapting, adjusting, and augmenting what others have found successful. And, don't be afraid to discard something that just won't work for your group. This includes the Flutophone Demonstration and the Drawing Lesson in the appendices.† I have used both of these activities when teaching adults to be better teachers of students.† However, these activities may not work at all for you.† If they don't, use something else that does work for you!
If a student has a specific ability or disability, select methods and materials, which tend to maximize abilities and minimize disabilities.
Test what the students have learned.
Testing can be as simple as asking a few verbal questions after telling a story. Or, testing for older students can be in the form of a written quiz or performance monitoring.
In the example of cooking the egg above, one form of evaluation would be to eat the egg sandwich: does it look, smell, and taste good?
The true purpose of testing is not to give grades but to discover what has been learned. Of course, no test can ever truly measure intelligence or knowledge. A test measures performance and from that performance, we draw inferences on what has been learned. The much talked-about IQ (intelligence quotient) test shows how a given student or group of students performs mentally in comparison to most students of the same age.
For example, Johnny is 10 years old. We say his chronological age (CA) is 10.
However, when tested, he is able to do the mental work of the average 8-year-old. We say his mental age (MA) is 8.
We then arrange this basic information into a division problem. In the answer (quotient), we drop the decimal if there is one, and add a zero. We could call the answer a percent.†††
MA / CA = IQ†
(In these examples, the slash mark (/) means divided by.)††† 8 / 10 = 80
Johnny can do 80% of the mental work of an average 10-year-old, so we say his Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is 80. Let's try another example. Jenny is also 10. However, when she is tested, she can do the mental work of a student who is 12. Again, this information is put into a simple division problem:†††
MA / CA = IQ††† 12 / 10 = 120
Of course many students will do the mental work of students their own age. Then the IQ equation looks like this:†††
MA / CA = IQ††† 10 / 10 = 100
Talk to the students, don't teach at them.
Good teachers don't sound like "teachers". They sound like a normal person talking to a group of normal persons. Tape your lessons and listen to yourself teach. Watch your volume and pitch. If you always use high volume and pitch, you have nowhere to go when you want to add emphasis.
Tell it, don't read it.
When presenting a story to young students:
(a) read the story during your preparation time and absorb the gist of what it says;
(b) if you can't remember the details of the story, write some cues on 3x5 cards; if you have pictures to hold up, tape your cue cards to the back of the pictures;
(c) when presenting the story, look the students straight in the eyes and "tell" them the story;
(d) if the story is from a book with pictures, hold the book facing the group and turn the pages as you TELL the story. This technique makes your presentation more effective and helps you keep better control of the group.
For students who are "too old" for stories, limit your in-class reading to passages of lasting literary value or technical material that cannot be easily paraphrased. If you have a teacher's or instructor's manual, it should be read during your preparation time and then woven into your classroom presentation. Never read something to students which they can read for themselves [unless they are nonreaders.]
For preschool and primary-age students, do all writing in upper/lower case manuscript
This kind of writing provides more visual cues than solid capitals. All students, even adults, can profit from the visual cues of upper/lower case writing. This applies when the copy is typeset, as well as handwritten. Using combinations of circles and straight lines to make all the letters creates manuscript printing.
11. Know the difference between concepts and facts.
Fact: There were 13 original colonies.
Concept: The colonists had to work hard to put together a form of government that met the challenges of the new land without giving up the values, which caused them to come to this continent in the first place.
Prepare a lesson plan.
The plan should be in outline format so it can be used for quick reference during the lesson. During your preparation time, learn the lesson so well that while you are teaching, a quick glance at your lesson plan can trigger the next sequence of thoughts or events. Your lesson plan shouldn't be a script that is read word for word. In fact, you already know you should seldom read anything to students unless it has lasting literary value.† Lesson plans seldom do.
All good teachers rehearse their lessons. Beginners may need to do this with an audience (from within the family or friends). Or, teach to a tape recorder and then play it back as you listen critically. As you get more experienced, you may do your rehearsing mentally. When I know I am going to speak before a group, I always do a mental rehearsal. Some of this activity involves actual mental word-for-word dialogue between the group and me.
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In any society, control is necessary or chaos results. This applies to teachers and students, also.
There is a philosophical difference between discipline and punishment. The purpose of discipline is to improve future behavior. The purpose of punishment is to provide a negative reward for past behavior. Try to think in terms of discipline and not punishment.
To have control in your classroom, you must:
Establish rules and limits.
Your students may act like they don't want limits but many humans thrive in a controlled environment. Make sure everyone knows and understands your rules.
Enforce established rules and limits.
Don't make empty threats. You may say, "The next time you talk without raising your hand, you will sit in the time-out chair 2 minutes." But if you say it, make sure you do it. Count on one thing: your students will test you.
3. Understand and be able to use the basic principles of such behavioral techniques as contingency contracting, positive reinforcement, behavior shaping, and delayed reinforcement.
A contingency contract is based on an if/then statement. The classic contingency contract exists between an employer or employees. ††† If you do the things listed in your job description, Then I will give you a financial reward.†††
For younger students, contracts are always verbal. For older students, they may be written. Here are some sample classroom contingency contracts:†††
IF you will be quiet during the story, THEN you may have a snack.†††
IF you don't touch the microphone, THEN you may stand in the front row of the junior choir.†††
IF you memorize 10 of the 13 original colonies, THEN I will give you a new ††† puzzle.
Many students (of all ages) exhibit poor behavior because they want your attention and/or the attention of the rest of the group. The trick is to reward positive behavior while ignoring negative behavior. (Negative behavior that involves danger to self or others should not be ignored. Use a more structured technique such as time out.) Instead of giving a handful of Fruit Loops to all the children as a snack, try using them as positive reinforcers. When you see Tom, Dick, and Harry misbehaving, do this: "Mary is in her seat and ready for the story. Mary gets a Fruit Loop. Joe is in his seat and he gets a Fruit Loop. Billy is quiet. He gets a Fruit Loop, too." Say absolutely nothing to or about Tom, Dick, or Harry. If their negative behavior is based on a need for attention, this technique will get to them over a period of time.
Sometimes a student cannot meet your rules and standards. Therefore, you must accept, and reinforce his/her ability to perform/conform on a graduating scale. Use this technique in connection with positive reinforcement. Harry is a new student in the community who has never been to Cub Scouts before. At first, you might reinforce him/her for not disturbing others while he is out of his seat. Later, you reinforce him/her for being in his seat even though he is not attending to what you are doing. Over successive sessions, you can gradually increase the requirements for ††† reinforcement until he performs on the same level as the other students.
Delayed reinforcement (token economy):†††
A token economy is based on delayed reinforcement. Again, the employee/employer relationship provides an example. When an employee comes to work and performs the tasks listed in the job description, the reinforcement comes at the end of the pay period in the form of a paycheck or envelope. When working with younger students, instead of using edibles (Fruit Loops) for immediate reinforcement, use tokens for delayed ††† reinforcement. You can make tokens out of small squares of colored construction paper. These tokens may then be exchanged for prizes or privileges.
You will find the need for a time out area where students can go whose negative behavior cannot be tolerated. This may be a corner of the room (a time-honored tradition) or a chair. Keep time out periods short. You might use an egg timer to keep track of the time. You may need different time-out areas for different students. Of course, in the adult world, the ultimate time out is prison. A rule of thumb you may try for preschool students is to give one minute of time out for each year of chronological age.
Be consistent across programs.†††
In order for behavioral techniques to be effective, your program must be consistent across all programs. Behavioral techniques have less chance of working if all adults involved in the program are not using the same reinforcement procedures. This is especially true for students with behavior problems. Involved adults must confer on the various techniques that will be used.
Not all troubled students are troublesome.
Sometimes the quiet child may need your attention but doesn't know an acceptable way to compete for it. One of the benefits of positive reinforcement is the boost the self-concept of such a student gets each time the Fruit Loops or blue tokens are passed around for good behavior.
What about Problem Adults?
The biggest problem I've encountered while teaching/training adults is a problem many kids have in school, also. Constant talking! If a single student is constantly talking while I am talking, I simply stop talking and wait till the offender stops talking, also. Then I start talking again. If the offender starts talking again, I stop again and wait for quiet. Most intelligent persons soon get the message that I am refusing to compete with a second talker.
If I am a member of a group of adults and my neighbor starts talking to me, I don't answer unless it is something simple like, "What time is it" or "May I borrow your pencil." In other words, I do unto that teacher as I expect students to do unto me.
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The Seven Rules of Effective Teaching
The seven rules of effective teaching listed below are drawn from the four keys: compassion, communication, content, and control
They are presented here to give you an overall picture of good teaching technique. Appendix B: The Flutophone Demonstration is an activity that role-plays these seven rules in both a positive and a negative fashion. I have used The Flutophone Demonstration to illustrate these seven rules in countless workshops and seminars for adults of all education levels and walks of life. Without fail, the student who received the good instruction has gone from a bumbling squeaker to playing a recognizable rendition of Mary Had a Little Lamb while the audience watched. [Total time: 15 minutes] And, the student who got the bad instruction also learned to play Mary Had a Little Lamb when presented with the good lesson.
If you have a little knowledge of music, you may be able to take The Flutophone Demonstration and run with it. If you know nothing about music, you will need to practice on the Flutophone before you try it in a public workshop. All I can say is, it has worked for me, over and over again.
Now, the Seven Rules:
Develop a positive relationship with the learner[Compassion]
Your students may be able to learn something if they don't like you. But they're learn a lot more and learn it faster if they do like you.
Avoid sarcasm and ridicule[Compassion]
This is especially important when working with young children, such as members of a Little League team.
Begin with the known and relate it to the unknown[Communication;
This is a working definition of a parable. All effective teachers use this as a starting point.
Adjust your instruction to the initial learning level of the students[Content]
You want the student's first effort to be successful.
Break a lesson into sequential learning objectives[Content]
Call them objectives or outcomes, but you must break the lesson into small, manageable parts.
Reinforce the student's ability to perform/conform on a graduating scale.[Control]
Start each student at his/her success level. Then gradually increase the level of difficulty as their ability to perform increases.
Praise in public; correct in private.[Control]
There will be times when a student needs to be corrected. However, do it in private unless the safety of the student or the group is involved and immediate intervention is needed. Always do more praising than correcting , while still being sincere.
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