Every day this week, I am featuring one of Annette Breaux’s classroom management tips and my experiences using them on the first day. I am confident you will take something positive away from at least one of these tips! (And if you do, make sure you let Annette know!)
Today’s tip: Avoiding the distraction of the pencil sharpener.
- In theory: I really liked Annette’s analogy for this one: if you go to a great restaurant, you go for great food, but you also go for great service. Tell the kids that you want to give them great food (that’s what you’re teaching), but you also want to make sure they get great service. Tell them you want to make their lives as easy as possible. Tell them they don’t have to worry about getting up and going all the way over to the pencil sharpener to sharpen their pencils. Tell them, instead, to give you a discreet thumbs up. When you see it, you continue teaching as you retrieve a sharpened pencil from your desk and bring it to them. You swap your pencil for theirs. You sharpen their pencil (as you continue to teach), and then exchange pencils again. No more lines at the sharpener, no more distracted kids cleaning their personal sharpeners out.
- In practice: I hadn’t planned for this one just yet, but it did come to mind when I saw a kid staring dejectedly at the pencil point that had just broken for the umpteenth time (the $0.01 packs of pencils at Staples truly stink, by the way). Rather than have him sit there doing nothing, I made a big show of saying, “Ugh! Your pencil broke?! Man, what a bummer! But don’t worry: I have plenty of pencils that you can use!” I got one from my desk and continued: “And you know what? Just because I care about you so much, I’m even going to sharpen your pencil for you! Don’t thank me, I just want to make things as easy for you as possible!” When I gave the student his pencil back, he was quite a bit dumbfounded. He seemed to be asking, “Who on Earth are you and what did you do with my teacher?” I felt a lot better than when I angrily say to him, “How many times have I told you you need to bring sharpened pencils to school?”
- Remember: I shared this idea with a colleague. She loved it, but couldn’t overlook the obvious: “This means I’m going to have to start sharpening a bunch of pencils.” Uh, yep.
Try it and share with us how it went!