Solving a problem -- cleaning up, creating community
What happens when students don't do what you need and want them to do as a teacher?
Does telling them and ordering them work? Yelling and showing disfavor? Using a token system of rewards and demerits?
This teacher believes the key is in (1) relationships, (2) mutual responsibility, (3) presenting children with problems and asking them to solve them, (4) treating them with respect in the process.
In this clip, the teacher presents a problem for the class. Note the restraint in her voice. (She is pretty upset but is working hard to talk with respect, not to raise her voice). She presents the issue, asks the students questions. Note the language. She owns her own feelings, "This has been very frustrating to me". She lays out the issue: "Some people are doing more than their share. Some not doing enough . . . We end up in a conflict at the end of the day". One student makes a suggestion and the teacher asks the students to follow through on this: pick a goal for the day. She then explains what her goal is. to help all get cleaned up without having to yell. Note how once again she owns her own feelings: "I don't feel like I am a good teacher when I yell".
What does this short interchange illustrate? How might it have been better? What was good? Clearly this was an effort on the part of the teacher to engage students in thinking and learning. She is giving them information rather than primarily using her power.
Michael Peterson, 2003
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