what my toddler has taught me about teaching… (so far)

I have found that aside from vocabulary size; there are few differences between my toddler and my students. They are bright, energetic and I really love to spend time with them. Any day I can bring my kid to school is, like, the best. day. ever.

I’m pretty sure that, had I attended a pre-service teacher program I would have received lots of information regarding classroom management. Since I never had that, I just rely on instinct (and about 10years experience as a workshop facilitator, but that’s another post). I realize I’m lucky in my situation that this has worked for me… and now that I’m a mom I’m benefitting even more from that instinct. I thought I’d share a list of carry-over rules between school and home. Not just behavior management, also ways to build good kids.

1) You have to at least try it. Once.
Broccoli, chicken, disagreeing with a friend, speaking up for yourself, Indian food, reading a biography, running a mile…. the list is endless.

2) Only one balloon at a time.
We are a society that believes a few dangerous things, not the least of which are “more is better” and “now is better than later.” I do actually have balloons in my desk at school, but this rule also applies to ideas, words and actions. Teaching them to present one well reasoned idea in an economy of language is hard but worth working on. Helping kids learn to manage expectations and obligations fits here too – you don’t need to play more than one sport a season or be an officer in four organizations at a time.

3) No throwing/biting/hitting/kicking.
You’d be surprised how apropos this continues to be into late adolescence and early adulthood. Or maybe you wouldn’t.

4) Use your words.
Express yourself. Oh, and these words don’t count: “um”, “like” (unless you are employing an honest-to-God simile).

5) Look at someone when they are talking to you.
This is a huge pet peeve in the classroom. When someone is talking – whether it’s me or anyone else – you should be paying attention to them. I talk with my classes at least once, or more if we need it, about how we know someone is listening to us. Eye contact, open body language, an appreciative nod or two. And I emphasize the same with my kid: look and listen when someone is talking.

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