Wednesday, February 29, 2012

School Volunteer

I am volunteering in a local elementary school this year.  Each week I work with several kids who need extra help in math.  I usually do one on one sessions with first, second and third graders.

All works really well, except… 2nd grade group of 3 or 4 kids.  The group changes week to week depending on who most needs help.  And frankly, after the first couple weeks of being polite, they pretty much stopped listening to me.  The kids liked this half hour of special time out of the classroom and took it as an opportunity to squirm, wiggle and giggle.  I could not control them for the short 30 minutes I had with them!

I normally get to their classroom about 5 minutes early and could easily see how well behaved the entire classroom was.  The teacher is pleasant but firm and a lot of work is getting done.  My dilemma was that I had absolutely no authority or consequence over these little people that could inspire them to follow my directions.  Hmmm….what to do???

A few weeks ago at the end of our session, I asked the kids what happens in their class if they talk and giggle and wiggle when they should be working.  With big eyes and complete seriousness, they told me the teacher takes one of their 3 sticks.  They carefully explained that losing 1 stick is a warning, losing 2 sticks loses 5 minutes of recess and losing 3 sticks means losing all of recess.  BINGO!  With a serious look on my face, I calmly announced that from now on, when they misbehaved with me, I would ask their teacher to remove a stick.  Problem absolutely, completely solved.  They do not want to lose a stick!!!

Now each week I remind them of the rule at the beginning of the session (because the kids in the group often changes, I need to make sure they all know it).  But then I do not remind, threaten or give second chances.  So far, I haven’t needed to take a stick. They are really delightful and we get our work done!  I may need to take a stick in the next couple weeks but I am betting it will only be once.  So, kudos to a great teacher who knows how to be a leader in her classroom and make it easy for volunteers like me to actually accomplish something!

That’s it parents – figure out the consequence that matters to your kids and let them know that misbehavior will “earn” them that consequence.  While you will have to levy the penalty a few times, they will likely soon be following your directions!

1 comment:

  1. Now to find a way to use the sticks with high schoolers! ;-)