¡No seas quejón! means don’t be a whiner…. I can’t stand whining and bickering in class. I truly believe it damages the amazing classroom culture and community I work so hard to build. I have developed tiny little ways to curb the whining over my years teaching elementary, middle, and high school. I have become a whine manipulator through white lies…
It sounds terrible but it isn’t. My faculty at school have come to recognize that I am a master at using white lies in my classroom. It isn’t because I like to manipulate my kids (ok maybe a little bit) I have just found that tiny little lies, on occasion, prove to be an incredibly powerful and handy tool.
Example #1: Peeking…. UGH… I can’t stand peeking
This one is easy, and I’ve mentioned it before. The first time I see a peeker, whether it is during a game of Mafia or during a thumbs up thumbs down exit quiz, I immediately stop the whole class and tell them that ALL teachers during their certification are REQUIRED to take a 1 credit course on the skill of identifying “peekers”. I explain how annoying the course was at the time but how useful it is now, because the slightest eyebrow twitch or foot wiggle gives away a peeker! Some students have dared to confirm this information with other faculty in my building, who know to answer ‘YES,’ to any weird questions coming to them right after Spanish class.
Example #2: Shoot! I have the wrong song/PPT/lesson/WHATEVER pulled up on the board
The easiest thing to do when you don’t have the right thing ready at any given point in the class is to have students get up and do a pre-taught Brain Break that can last 60 seconds or whatever so you have time to transition and re-set yourself (Evolution is a great one). However, if I know I can find what I need super fast, or if we just finished a Brain Break and I notice I am not ready, I just tell everyone to close their eyes. Since I establish my “peeking” trick early in the year, most kids quickly shut their eyes the first time I ask. I glance around and then start doing what I need to BUT as I do, to DISTRACT and confuse them, I say “Waiting on 3 people to close their eyes, waiting on 2 people, DON’T OPEN YOUR EYES TO SEE WHO IS PEEKING SILLY!!!! Waiting on 1 person to close their eyes” and usually by then I can say, “OK, open your eyes!” ORRRR I can just take the time to quietly recycle any input I have already given during that class with students eyes closed… However, it is really funny to see them wondering who the heck could be peeking when I know nobody really is…. #thepowerofthewhitelie
Example #3: His name is BOB! no, it’s HARAMBE! NOOOOO! JERRY! BILLY! UNI! JOSÉ! GAHHH!
I cannot STAND bickering over character names or locations when we create One Word Images or do stories together. It drives me up the wall. I never ever want my students to know that though. I have found several strategies this year to end this bickering, including story cubes and chart paper for chalk talk . Both give students the ILLUSION that they are in control and they’ve given their input but really I am the one steering class. In addition to these, I have also mastered my “voting” technique. I PERSONALY, don’t like the idea of the “second teacher”. I have never done it, but I have seen it done and I see children and adults who play the second teacher, get very uncomfortable when they have to make a choice. Often times, they are having to make a decision while their whole class yells in their ears, other times, they have an opinion opposite to that of their best friend in class but they are terrified to vote that way and hurt their friend’s feelings. This last one is HUGE in Middle School when kids are so sensitive about what everyone thinks of them. Instead of the typical voting, I quickly have kids close their eyes and vote, and when they open their eyes I tell them the results and we move on quickly with no whining. (this ALSO allows me to decide HOW I want the vote to go! If I really want the city to be Shanghai instead of Denver because of how it sounds or because we haven’t heard it much in class, then I can pretend the votes went that way! HAHA!)
Example #6: My wicked awesome dance moves….
One of my favorite Brain Breaks to do is have the kids DANCE with me. I introduce it later in the year, so a SAFE space has already been created. I am really really really good at dancing… The kids REALLY believe that I believe that…. They think that I actually go out and DANCE like this on the weekend. I LOVE that I have convinced them of this. It keeps them in fits of giggles and some classes even work to keep some children from telling me the “horrible” truth that I actually suck. I convinced two classes this year that I am actually a Zumba instructor… #epic This sort of white lie helps to keep the classroom culture and community fun, and funny, and it helps lower the affective filter. Laughter is AMAZING for this!
Example #5: Voting for a PARTY!
Very similar to “voting for names/places” example, when a class has won a fiesta for their class points I have them either vote with their eyes closed OR they write their choice on a piece of paper. Then ultimately, I make the decision of what the party will be. If I don’t feel like a Movie Party, I just slightly alter the votes… Usually, I try and give kiddos what they want here, but I have altered results before. This HAS back fired one time… Most of the class voted for a food and zumba party in one class this year. I told the class (at the VERY end of class right at the bell so there is VERY little time to confer with each other) that the vote count was for outdoor games and food. At lunch later that day, I had 2 brave young ladies come to me and say, “Maestra, I think maybe there was a miscount because most everyone in the class said they voted for Zumba….” I quickly said “Oh! Totally! I must have miscounted! No worries! Zumba it is!” then I had to suck it up and find Zumba videos and the kids quickly realized I am not a Zumba instructor AT ALL…. #thetruthcomesout
Example #6: Fiesta TIMING
SOOOOO….. because I like to keep my point systems for classroom management all the SAME, sometimes it means delaying a party a little while. I change the way I do my point system a little each time after a fiesta (another blog coming soon) to keep it NOVEL (a la Carol Gaab). Since the points are arbitrary, I can usually manipulate them enough without students realizing to make sure that all the classes are going to end up having a party around the same time. If I need to boost one class up, I can just make it a point to PRAISE one student like crazy for a little output one day and award them 100 points at random. That student then feels like the king of the world and the class is back to where I need them to be. When you have a ROCK STAR class though, sometimes it is hard to delay them. Instead, when they reach the “party” I congratulate them, we vote on what they want to do, and then the next day (I warn my admin) and I tell them that because my principal told me about some testing down the hall, we can’t have the fiesta for another week because we get so loud. I give them candy and they don’t worry about it, and that gives me a week or so to catch the other classes up! 🙂 YAAAAS!
Example #7: Maestra…. You are HOW OLD?!
When I started teaching I was Joe Dziedzic ‘s mentee. I worked at George Washington high school. I had colleagues write me detentions for “wandering in the halls” and “breaking into the teacher’s lounge to use the copy machine”. I had girls threaten to fight me because they thought I was trying to steal their boyfriends, and I had boys ask me out for the first 2 months. People think I look young now!? Can you imagine 6-7 years ago!?!? THEN, I moved to Middle School, and was a mentee under Kris Farris. Here, I had about half of the boys have major crushes on me. I learned then that I had to come up with a good little white lie to deceive my students about my age! (Last week, I had almost my entire workshop of 23 people (ADULTS!!!) believe I was born in 1972!!!) So, I picked an age that wasn’t old and was totally believable, I figured out the year I would have had to have been born, and I stuck with it. This year, I turned 45. Students totally believe it, and it stops MOST of those adorable Middle School crushes because they automatically see me as their Mom’s age and stop thinking I am cute! 🙂 Bonus, I get really awesome cards each year. The progression of “Happy 40th, Happy 41st, and this year, ‘HAPPY 45th! It’s a BIG one!'” have been really really fun!
Example #8: Maestra? Why didn’t we get our free-writes back?
Sometimes, we teachers have to take work home with us… Sometimes, in order to make working from home a little more tolerable, we like to have a glass of wine (or 5) while we grade…. Sometimes, when you live in the South and “bugs are as big as the state of Louisiana” -Wade Blevins, and a massive flying roach crawls into your wine glass and you proceed to take an enormous gulp then spit said wine and roach ALL OVER THE 10 piles of freewrites on the floor…. Well, sometimes, you just need to pull out a white lie, and tell everyone they did SOOO well you decided to take them home and hang them ALL over your fridge and give everyone 100%! (which they usually get anyways….)
SO! There you have it! Some very simple ways for you to start becoming a master manipulator in YOUR classroom 😉
Until next time,
HAPPY VACATIONING (I hope all of you are on Summer Break now!!!)
La Maestra Loca