Saturday, April 28, 2018

AN EPIPHANY

     I was a t...Yes you know this familiar start to  post of mine.

      I took a one year teacher training program in 1957-58. The training was very basic. There was also a six week practicum in the program. We took many courses but they were brief. Everybody got the same course: primary methods, reading, art, music, phys.ed. administration, classroom organization... Discipline was emphasized. Did I say discipline was emphasized? Yes , I did. 

      These were the days when discipline was strict. Classroom control was everything. Anything fast and dirty was used to get these goals. School trustees were only concerned about discipline...good behavior. They didn't seem to get learning strategies and achievement. Terrible things were d
one: strap, cane, shaking, shoving, slapping, pulling hair...awful things.

     Since I got half my education in the 40's, I was exposed to the discipline regime.

     I got the strap  but I well remember one and why I got it. This is the classroom and the teacher. when I look back at things this lady was an excellent teacher. I'm the innocent little fellow in the middle line from the teacher.



     In the one room schools the teacher went to his/her house to eat lunch and the students ate their lunch in the classroom without supervision. This worked fine 99.9% of the time. Somehow or other WWWX broke out one noon hour. For some reason or other we started throwing chalk brushes. The fight became intense and was it ever fun until the teacher walked in. Some of us were so intent in the activity that we didn't see the teacher. I was one of them.

     The teacher was very angry and we were sent to the cloakroom and soon she came in with the strap and we caught it. I was angry. We were having fun. Most of all , some of the people who were quick enough to see the teacher didn't get strapped. Did I stop doing stupid things? Well no. I still haven't stopped doing dumb things. 

    So I started my teaching career and the first part of it I emphasized good behavior. Many rants and raves occurred. One student even got the strap.

    Over the years and about mid career I gradually changed. I could see that ranting and raving sometimes caused more harm than good and in most cases didn't help the situation.

     I deliberately went low key. The adrenaline level was lowered. Problems that could have happened sometimes didn't happen. I rarely yelled. If I did yell, I sometimes heard, "He never yells.We better be good!" I used eye contact, hand motions ...low key stuff. Sometimes sterner methods were necessary. 

    So about mid career, I had learned some different strategies and how to apply them. We were given many professional in services. These strategies lowered stress and I went home at the end of the day in a much better mood.

    So I guess you could say that I had a gradual epiphany.

29 comments:

  1. Classroom control continues to be one of the biggest hurdles to teaching. There are no many things the teacher can't do, which is good, but the lack of respect from students and their parents makes the job very difficult.

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    1. Support is crucial for success.

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  2. The Principal at my grade school had a yard stick and he whacked kids with it...sometimes I thought for no reason. I never got whacked. I can still see him and his yard stick with a red bow on it. Glad you got smart and found a better way to disciple kids:)

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    1. Sad that that type of behavior was tolerated.

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  3. I echo Linda's comment. Also I think that establishing good classroom discipline is easiest when you have smaller numbers of pupils. When you have a class of up to thirty five it becomes much more challenging - especially if there is significant social deprivation in the school's neighbourhood.

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    1. To me 18 students was the magic number. I seemed to be able connect with kids up to that number. For my last 3 years my classes were around 37. It was only crowd control.

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  4. The use of a strap is very unknown to me, had to look it up what it is. Must be something the British people have introduced in your country. It sounds horrible. I can't remember a teacher has ever used physical violence to a pupil. My father has been a teacher for more than 40 years and never has used violence in a classroom, it is not allowed here.

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    1. I think Britain had some brutal forms of punishment for kids. Good to hear that the Dutch did not tolerate such action by teachers.

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  5. I'm so glad you had that epiphany, about discipline and classroom control in particular. So many never quite manage it!

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    1. I always said that a third of the time I was in control, a third of the time the kids were in control and a third of the time it was a toss up.

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  6. Hi Red, This post sure brings back a lot of memories of those years in the classroom. Back at the very beginning I was working in the same department with another teacher who became a great friend. Like yourself, at the start, he suggested very strict discipline. He told me, on more than one occasion, “fear” works. So, I tried to apply that but found the results spotty. Again, just like you, over time I changed my approach, and found much less stress had accumulated at the end of the day. I sure enjoy these looks back on teaching.

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    1. Well, it's good to hear that somebody else had the same experience. So I've given you some topics for blog posts???

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  7. We had a teacher in primary school who hit students with books. We called her the Witch, and suggested she could have taught lessons in cruelty to the Nazis.

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    1. That's one that should have been caught and taught a thing or two.

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  8. I am amazed at how many of my fellow bloggers that I follow were teachers. I don't remember ever being punished physically, but I got in plenty of trouble for not finishing my homework. And it was only a fraction of what the students do today! :-)

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    1. I never thought of many bloggers being teachers. It makes sense though. We've done some writing all through our careers.

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  9. Ny mother taught for about forty-five years, most of it with Grade nines. She was only five feet tall, so physical punishment wasn't an option even if she had wanted to use it, but she always had good discipline in her classrooms. She attributed it to keeping the students interested and to treating them like reasonable people until they proved otherwise. To this day she feels the best compliment she ever got from a former student was that her classroom was always calm. I don't know how she did it!

    It's interesting to read of your teacher days, so please keep it up!

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    1. 45 years!!! That's dedication. I think for many students performance is much better in a safe secure situation. I'm about finished with teacher stories. Teacher stories have been on Hiawatha house since I started.

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  10. Discipline has to be the least taught, I taught student teachers around 2005 for a term. They assured me none of this was taught. sigh.

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    1. Classroom management depends a lot on experience.

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  11. Keeping a classroom under control is quite difficult. I remember some teachers who did it with little effort while others couldn't do it no matter how they tried.

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    1. Some days are better than others! Some days everything fell apart.

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  12. I think this is a common trajectory for those of us who work in schools. We start out all tough and severe, until we realize that it's not needed and it's not the best way to reach the students.

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    1. I guess people gain more confidence with more experience.

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  13. I went to parochial school so we had nuns. Some nuns used a ruler on your knuckles for punishment. One kid punch the nun in the face and was expelled. He never came back, instead his parents sent him to the public school which was nearby.

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  14. we had a board of education that was a paddle with holes.The humiliation was the worst, I stayed away from it.In my classroom teaching it was Respect: others, property and yourself. Plain and simple to follow

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  15. my school's era was 80s and yes even until that time discipline was most important

    i was one of those who were not inventor of mischief but be easily part if it was harmless and just fun to have
    we would be punished as stand up with hands up for 30 minutes or be monitor to control the class when teacher has not arrived
    (it was like make a thief care taker of stuff)

    i liked the innocent adorable little Red in the middle.great share!

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  16. I'm thinking the teacher gave you the strap because she was jealous of your extreme cuteness. By the time I went to school the strap and paddled had been outlawed (California of course). Unfortunately, the word must not have gotten to the nuns at Catechism. They were brutal!

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  17. My first year of teaching, I did raise my voice. However, the Behavior Disorder Teacher and Social Worker gave me some quick lessons and it was amazing how much easier the 2nd year was. I found that just standing quietly at the front of the classroom was far more effective than yelling at the students. I can just imagine what a great teacher you were. Yikes! The strap? I'm wondering if girls were strapped too.

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