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Summer is the perfect time (read: only time) for teachers to think about giving their classrooms and procedures a spiffy little makeover. This three-part series shares a few ideas for polishing up your reading corner (Part I), procedures (Part II), and discipline (Part III). It’s makeover time!
Tackling Tattling: Refreshing Discipline Tactics
Do you want a new way to handle complaining issues in your classroom? This idea will help students get over their complaints, clear their minds, and move on!
Students tattling or nagging about little things can use this as a way to vent, without bogging you down with non-essentials.
Create a Safe Spot: First, designate a special box (or trash can, so students know they are literally “throwing away” their complaint). Then, put strips of paper next to it, where students can write down their complaint before depositing it into the box/can.
The Power of Writing: By writing it down and giving it up, students learn an effective strategy to get rid of a complaint and move on with their day.
To Read or Not to Read: These can either be private (no one–not even you–will read them), or if you would like to read them, just tell your students they’ll remain between them and you. Some situations may warrant further action on your part, but mostly, you’ll find that the complaints in this box resolve themselves.
Sometimes student issues are a little bigger and do need an intervention on your part. Here’s where students can go when it’s not an appropriate time to vent to you, but they do need your help.
Create a Safe Spot: Designate a box or mailbox where students can write down issues they’re having with someone (even another student). They drop their paper in the box and “put it on hold” for now. They need not let it bother them for the rest of the day because they know it will be discussed later.
Resolve Every Morning: This box is opened every morning, during Morning Meeting, and the teacher reads them one by one. (Obviously, you need to read through them beforehand, to make sure they’re appropriate to read aloud. Some may best be dealt with privately, and some may need to be tossed–or given back to the student to transfer to the “Complaint Box,” above.)
The student who wrote the issue then states whether they still need to discuss it or if it has been resolved since they wrote it. If it has been resolved, it is tossed. If it is still an issue, students work together to determine ways to deal with it. Maybe there needs to be an apology. Maybe the people involved need to discuss their reasoning for doing what they did, as well as how they were feeling.
Peer Feedback: If need be, the other students can give suggestions to their peers on how they could have handled the issue differently.
Students need to be aware that this isn’t a place to put little bitty tattlings that they can resolve on their own (that’s the “Complaint Box”). This is where they come when they’ve tried to resolve it, but still need help.
If done correctly and with sensitivity, this Resolutions Box builds a sense of a classroom “family” where the students care about each other…and are held accountable for how they treat each other.
Talk to the Ear
This idea works best with younger elementary students–and is a good option for pre-writers who can’t use the two ideas above.
Post an Ear: Post a laminated picture of an ear in a corner of the room. Or–if you have access to one–put a plastic ear on an inconspicuous student-accessible shelf or table.
Redirect to the Ear: When a student comes to you with a trivial issue, tell them to “go tell the ear.” They can then go over to the ear and whisper their complaint or issue.
Of course, this only works with younger students–and should only be used when the issue really is trivial. But, surprisingly, it makes young students feel like they have been “heard” and helps them get on with their day…now that they’ve voiced their concern to a “listening ear.”
Kelli Lewis, M. Ed. recently received her masters degree from The University of Georgia and is currently staying busy setting up her third-grade classroom!