Friday, June 14, 2013

WBT Book Club Chapter 4: Charting Progress

Imagine next year is completed. You've faithfully charted your own behavior as an instructor and your students’ progress. Looking back, what did you learn?

Maintaining good classroom management has always been a weakness of mine.  It wasn't until I took a class through Walsh University this spring that I discovered many unique, successful ways to help me  monitor my progress and help manage and chart student behavior.  When charting myself, I focused on controlling my emotions, keeping my tone of voice in check, and confronting challening students individually.  I kept a simple binder with each class roster printed with student names and columns for days of the week.  The last thing I did before leaving for the day was pick up the binder at the door and reflect.  After several weeks of use, it became very routine for me to rate myself and give myself a weekly score.  I have definitely learned that, "I cannot manage student behavior if I cannot manage my own." 

I was also very successful with monitoring student behavior.  Very much like my own personal rating system, I used a Behavior Rating System for charting student progress.  Now, I will say I was apprehensive about using this system because it is not like me to stop and reflect.  Good teachers reflect though, and I discovered wonderful things about my students.  First, I was forced (yes, the class forced me to try the rating system) to think about my students as individuals.  I thought about their assignment completion, their classroom behavior, their attitude, their on/off task tendencies, and whether or not they followed classroom rules.  My consistent use of this rating system allowed me to know my students better.  I categorized them by placing them into groups including the Go-Alongs, Fence Sitters, Challenging Students, Leaders, and Model students.  Each week, I picked up my binder and rated each student.  The rating scale included: 5 points for model, 4 points for leader, 3 points for go-along, 2 points for fence sitter, and 1 point for challenging.  After totaling the points, I always divided the number by the total students in the class, and this became my average score.  The whole concept of points and 'moving my students' to new levels challenged me to do more.  As Coach B. always says, "Who doesn't like a good game with levels?"  I know I love to play a good game on my iPhone, and the progress chart challenged me to do more.  I found myself looking for ways to help my students advance on the chart.  I, in fact, became a better teacher!  I used this system on a weekly basis.  Sometimes there was very little progress, and other times, I thought I would cry.  When you teach a student for months and you move them from 'Challenging' to 'Fence Sitter,' you truly want to cry with excitement.  Sometimes, growth is small, but consistent charting over time, the small becomes enourmous and noticable.    

The Behavioral Rating System allowed me to know my students on a personal level.  It allowed me to see students that sometimes go unnoticed.  The chart also caused me to have conversations with students that I would not have had otherwise.  I want my students to know I care, and charting the progress of myself and my students definitely allowed me to 'know my students and their needs' more than I have in all of my teaching years.  I can't wait to use it next year!

Behavior Progress Chart Rating Score:  Two Thumbs Up and a Mighty Ten Finger Woo

WBT Book Club Chapter 3: Seven Common Teaching Mistakes

Pick two of the errors described in Chapter 3, pages 9-13, of "Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids" and write yourself a letter of advice about how you're going to avoid these mistakes in the coming year.  Include one or two useful quotes from the chapter.  

This school year has been great, and I know you are ready for a much needed break.  Before you pack that final box and leave for summer break, I just wanted to remind you of two mistakes you have made this year.  I really want you to think about these challenges and work to correct them in the upcoming school year.  
First, challenging students can test even the most patient of teachers.  You can't lose your temper in front of them.  You are not known to yell at students, but sometimes you raise your voice.  Please know that when we lose our temper, the challenging students become more challenging.  Many students live with "high volume yellers," and if yelling worked, our challenging students would be our "Alpha" model students.  
Second, you keep a fairly organized classroom, but let's face it, your desk and work station get messy by the end of the day.  You started the year off great, but by December you were locking the door and leaving without cleaning up your high traffic areas.  Now, what does that tell your students?  I have to give credit where credit is due though.  You always have your plans ready, and you always know what you are teaching.  But, you need to put miscellaneous items away and keep them in the proper place.  "At minimum, there should be a place for everything in your classroom, and everything should always be in the same place."  If we expect all our students to be organized, especially our most challenging students, then we must be organized ALL of the time.  
You have lots of great teaching attributes in your favor that help even the most challenging of students.  You never confront a student in front of their peers, you have a passion for teaching United States History, you are always looking for new ideas to use in your classroom, and you are always willing to grow and try new things.  You found WBT, didn't you?  Who knows you better than me?  Uhhhh, no one!  So, when you read this letter again come September, remember that you are great.  You are incontrol of your classroom.  Don't lose your temper, and stay organized each day.  Your teaching skills ROCK, Melinda!

Respectfully yours,
Me, Myself, and I

WBT Book Club Chapters 1 and 2: Intro and Origin

Coach B says... "You've just been made principal of a charter school and you're about to address your staff for the first time. Select three points from chapters 1 and 2 that you are going to talk about describing key aspects of Whole Brain Teaching. Include one story about your teaching experience."
        I am so excited to be here this morning!  I'm thrilled that our new middle school has been chosen to implement Whole Brain Teaching!  This summer, we had the opportunity to participate in the WBT Book Club, and now it's time to implement all of those fabulous ideas we have been learning about. 
I want you all to think back to last year's students.  I know it's been a while, but I'm sure you can remember your students well.  Take a moment to remember.  (Pause.)  Now, think about your most challenging kids.  You know, the ones that talk out of turn, refuse to participate, don't turn in assignments, talk back, can't keep up with nor bring materials to class, and they distract others.  As hard as we try, it's difficult to engage these learners. 
Before taking this principalship, I was able to take a Whole Brain Teaching class through Walsh University, and I learned a lot about how the brain learns.  Chris Biffle, or Coach B. as he's called, is the leader of WBT, and he states, "Challenging kids are rebels.  Punishment makes them more rebelious.  Most want to be a part of the class and that's why they work so hard to get attention."  As educators, if we are to help these students, we must be willing to change and try new strategies.  The key law of WBT is, "The longer teachers talk, the more students we lose."  Our students are no different than us.  You don't want to sit through long lectures, and your students don't either.  And, even the most lively class discussions only engage a fraction of our students.  
The WBT book holds "detailed instructions for teaching challenging kids."  And, the rest of your class will love it, too.  
My consistent use of WBT strategies helped me help my challenging students.  I believe it will help you and your students, too.  Whole Brain Teaching will make all the difference!
I love Whole Brain Teaching with my whole heart!  This past spring, I did, in fact, take an online class through Walsh University instructed by Dr. Brobeck and Dr. Digianantonio.  It created an opportunity for me to use WBT consistently with my sixth graders.  The techniques came at a time in my career when I needed a boost.  Now, my new teaching style has caused a ripple effect among my team members and other sixth grade level teachers.  Currently, five other sixth grade teachers have purchased the book.  WBT is addictive!  It has forever changed my classroom attitude and the principles that govern the happenings in each of my middle school classes.  Oh yeah!