Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ask, don't tell

My habit has been to tell, to label, -- let's be honest: to nag.

"Edwina, you keep shouting out your thoughts. The rule is to raise your hand when you want to speak. I am tired of reminding you of this. You are on warning."

The result was always the same: dirty looks to match my dirty looks. Edwina might or might not answer back, but she would always complain about what a b**** I am.

WHEN I now remember instead to ASK, "Edwina, what are you doing? And what is our rule?" ... nine times out of ten, Edwina apologizes and self-corrects. ASTONISHING!!!

Or how about this, "Armando, I see you are choosing not to work today. That is not acceptable. Students who choose not to work may end up with Academic Detentions. Don't make me do that. Get to work."

Armando would typically respond by digging in his heels, daring me to follow through with my threat.

WHEN I now remember instead to ask, "Armando, what are you doing?" ... nine times out of ten, Armando slowly begins to work! AMAZING!!!

If after a few minutes Armando does not begin (or Edwina keeps shouting), I might need to add, "If you cannot work (cooperate) today, you can go next door. The choice is yours."

The really dazzling thing about the detour to another class is that the kids HATE to be detoured even though there are no additional punitive strings attached. No detentions, no referrals. Leaving their class and facing the rolled eyes of peers in the detour class is punishment enough.

This simple Raise Responsibility technique is transforming. It is still hard for me to remember, to change my nagging ways, but the jaw-dropping results are worth the effort.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Eileen,

    I'm trying to reach you to invite you to a program tomorrow (Monday, October 19th). Merle Hodge, author of Crick Crack, Monkey, is coming to WSC and I'd love you and any of your other English-teacher classmates to meet her. Don't know if your WSC email address is still valid, but if not, please drop me a line from your current email address so that I can send you further details about the program. Thank you, and best wishes, Josna (