Effective Praise

effective praise (Click to enlarge)

This is the final comic created from the Boys Town training strategies. Don’t forget to reserve your spot!

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Grow Up

mad dog

I guess comics are like jokes in that if you don’t “get it,” you lose the humor when it is explained. Whenever my husband doesn’t immediately “get it,” I write out an explanation in case others are confused, too. Here’s what’s supposed to be happening in today’s comic: The teacher in purple has taken a student into the hallway to discuss his “mad-dogging” in class. (“Mad-dogging” is staring aggressively at others to intimidate them or instigate a fight. It is a blatant show of disrespect meant to humiliate the other person.) She explains, “You’re growing up now. Adults don’t ‘mad-dog.'” As she is speaking to the student, another teacher (whom she obviously doesn’t care for) passes by and stares at her and the student. The teacher in purple confronts the one in red and asks, “What do you think you’re looking at?” and the other teacher challenges her by saying, “Not much.”

I wanted to illustrate the power we have as teachers of living as role models. If we tell students that adults don’t do certain things, then we should show them that adults don’t do those things. Students often ask me if teachers all like each other and I say, “HECK NO! But we must work together so even though we don’t always like each other, we do show respect for one another.”

Good Riddance!

new student

When you are a teacher, much of your day depends on other people’s choices. Guidance coordinators, parents, and other teachers must place and remove students from your class as they need to, so you don’t have much choice in who your students are. Some students you can’t stand are suddenly on your roll book, while others you adore disappear without warning. Often you will celebrate when a problematic student is removed from the roster, only to be replaced by one much worse. That’s teaching, though. The only thing you can do is be a source of light for all students, so they will remember you fondly. And not shank you when you turn around.

The Half Hug

half hug

Many teachers have a hands-off policy where they never make any kind of physical contact with a student. They believe that if they maintain this policy that nobody will ever have reason to falsely accuse them of any kind of crime. I respect this policy, but it’s not my style. I like to wake up sleeping kids by patting their arms, to give high-fives to students who do well, and when they are overcome with grief or happiness, they might attempt to hug me.

The problem is that a hug is rather intimate, and can bring up awkward situations like the correct cheek distance, appropriate squeeze strength,  or the problem of chest-brushing. My solution is the half-hug. A half-hug is not an outright rejection of a child who comes to you with open arms. It’s less uncomfortable than a full hug. It has little connotation that can be misconstrued, and a back pat adds that universal sign of platonic affection* so that there are no mixed signals involved. It also leaves a free hand for self-defense or sipping coffee.

In today’s day and age, it’s prudent to take measures of precaution: never be alone in a room with a student with a closed door, never discuss a student’s physical appearance, and if faced with a hug, a half-hug is acceptable as long as it is executed correctly (see diagram), and in public.

* If you did not know, a hand patting your back during a hug signals absolutely no romantic interest. Take note, those of you who are single. If you are dating and the date ends with a hand patting your back, it’s best to move on.

You’re Stuck Here!

can i go

I offer my students a generous two emergency passes per year, one per semester. Any more than two passes is an invitation to the dark side of all manner of evil. Some teachers don’t let their students leave at all. I remind students of this when they complain about my policy.

Help Grading Papers

daughter graded papers

Do you ever enlist family members to help you grade papers? If you have any work to catch up on over Christmas break, you might consider it. We would like to wish all of our friends a very merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy new year full of smiles and laughter.