Saturday, April 14, 2007

How I've learned to handle first graders

Why do you think I drink coffee only on days I go to school?

2. Make it interactive...
the kids need to move, sing, or respond in some way every few minutes to keep their little brains focused. This is not playfulness or laziness, this is the stage of brain development they're in. Giving them small tasks and assignments hold them accountable for their learning and keep them interested.

3.Keep it short and sweet!
Attention spans are roughly equivalent to ages, maxing out between 20 and 30 minutes for adults. That means I have 6 to 7 minutes of focused energy at a time to squeeze in what I can. After that, without accountability, it's in one ear and out the other.

3. *Praise* *Praise* *Praise*
Use it for anything you want to see more of. You have to be careful in the higher grades, but they still want to please at this age.

4. Talk to them with respect.
Calmly explain things and they listen...usually. The less emotion you use the better when redirecting and reprimanding.

5. Lay down the law, respectfully, of course.
This took the longest to get used to when I started teaching. Not having children of my own, I was not used to disciplining. Yelling is not needed. I've found lowing your voice in disappointment is much more effective. It makes them have to be quiet to listen which helps them calm down. Maybe once a year I raise my voice higher than a "teaching voice" for something drastic...and the shock of it hushes the room within a second.

6. Be consistent.
All the time. Every time.

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