Monday, March 21, 2011

I'll Confess: I Teach My Kids the Wrong Way

It's true. I teach my kids the wrong way. In fact I was a bit surprised to learn that more good teachers weren't teaching students the wrong way. But, before you go jumping to conclusions, let me explain.

I was in a professional development session after school talking about the Daily 5. Several teachers had commented on one particular technique authors Gail Boushey, and Joan Mosey suggest. When teaching classroom procedures and expectations, a teacher should show students the wrong way as well as the right way to do something. Some of my colleagues said they would never have thought of showing their students the wrong way. It feels unnatural, and counter intuitive.  However bizarre it may seem, it truly does work.

The wrong way can be the right way.
During the first month of school my students and I discuss and practice our classroom procedures and expectations. It sets the tone for the rest of the year, and students seem to feel much more comfortable when they know what is expected of them. While practicing a procedure or expectation, we will do it the wrong way and the right way.

Here is an example:
Let's say we are talking about listening expectations. I'll ask a student to pretend to be the teacher, and I sit in his/her seat and pretend to be a student who isn't following the expectation. I'll start a conversation with a neighbor while the "teacher" is speaking. I'll get into my desk and rattle papers around. I'll tap my pencil. I'll get out of my seat to get a drink. You get the idea.

The students really get a kick out of seeing their teacher act up, and frankly, I think it's a lot of fun too.  Afterward, we have a good discussion about why it was the wrong behavior, what I should have done instead. We also talk about what implications my rude behavior might have on the classroom environment. After the discussion, I'll have several students demonstrate the correct behavior.

Not only is it a wonderful technique at the beginning of the year, it's useful throughout the year. I use this tactic to revisit expectations that need to be readdressed. I also use it anytime I need to introduce a new procedure mid-year.

Have you ever tried teaching your students the wrong way? Share your creative teaching techniques.

*There are plenty of other great tips and tricks found on the right-hand side of the blog page under the section titled, "More Instant Ideas".

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