Diary of a Teacher's First Year

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 11 2011

I must have magical powers…

Khairi has been suspended 3 times. He is known to run out of our classroom, spend entire lessons crawling from underneath one table to the next poking the legs of other children as they are working, locking himself in the boys bathroom stall hysterically laughing and refusing to come out. And also, chair throwing….

I was thinking about Khairi as I was driving into work today…thinking about how he was probably going to ruin my great math lesson by using the unifex cubes as weapons, or throw a tantrum during my read aloud because I didn’t call on him to answer EVERY question. Just thinking about it I made me frustrated and just plain angry. When I got into my classroom, I told my co-teacher that I just couldn’t take it anymore and today, Khairi had to make it through the day…I felt so desperate and decided that I would do anything to get this kid through the day. And… I must have magical powers…because today, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, Khairi made it from 7am-4pm without hitting another student, without a tantrum, and without spending anytime in the office. Whoa.

He held my hand and walked 10 feet behind the rest of the class everytime we walked in the hallway. He entered the clasroom 5 minutes before everyone else so he wouldn’t have any chance to have a bad interaction while hanging up his backpack. He sharpened pencils during the bathroom break so he didn’t have time for his usual antics. He was never out of my sight for even a second. I gave him a “special job” during every lesson — he was my “marker manager” and the “table points scorekeeper” and the “pencil monitor”…I was making up new jobs for him all day, and he LOVED it. It was ridiculous how much praise he was given from every adult in the building. He loved the positive attention and the responsbility. He even offered to mop the floor when a child had a bathroom accident.
The other students were so cute, giving him high fives, big smiles, and telling him how proud they were. His mom practically burst into tears when he told her the good news.

It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. Fingers crossed for another magical day tomorrow! :)

3 Responses

  1. BarrLD

    What a great story. You must have the patience of a giant. It was great that all of the adults praised him. Hopefully that will have a lasting impression on him. Good luck mixing him back with the children.

  2. Milagros

    It’s unbelivable when the behavior of challening students changes as we come up with ideas to keep them busy and focused throughout the day. It was awesome to read about the school’s positive reinforcer throughtout the day, the other adults and from his peers. I can’t wait to figure out some magic tricks to help the 6 students that are driving me crazy disrupting the learning that goes on my classroom as they hit, pull hair, take away materials from one another and tease their teachers when it’s time to come back from outdoor recess by running away. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

  3. Mom

    What great insight for a beginning teacher to use positive reinforcement
    to reach a clearlly difficult child!! ! Sometimes, a child will do anything to get the attention he needs. How much better for him and the teacher if the attention is praise.! Keep up the good work. Somedays will be better than others. Try to find the humor in children. It helps !

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