Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Paradigm Shift

Of sorts.
If you've been following along at home, you know that I've been working with a different bunch of youths.
That's being nice.
Well on Monday morning, we had a meeting with a couple of the VPs to discuss our strategies.
At first, my impression was that I was to go in there and lay down the letter of the law.
So the paper flew, and students were sent to where ever they go when the paperwork gets filled out.
Of course there's procedure when it comes to disciplinary problems, but I sort of cut to the chase, if you will.
By Friday, I think they got the message: no more fooling around.
Well in that Monday meeting, it turns out the good ole Hammer method isn't quite the recommended option when working with high risk students.
You'll lose them.
I was told to sort of "kill em with kindness" which is fine by me for that's another method I learned on how to overcome objections.
Well, I left that meeting feeling sort of bummed, for now I felt like I was only pushing them farther away.
Would I get another chance to do my thing?
Okay, time to rethink the strategy.
Only, I wasn't able to.
Not really anyways.
Monday, things went fairly well.
Fairly, isn't a good word, how strangely well.
For suddenly, things had calmed down considerably in class. No more walking around, talking out of turn, refusing to do work.
The eye of the storm I predicted.
Them tricky students, just lulling us into a false sense of security.
More head games.
No, not really.
I hope.
Yesterday, believe it or not, it was just like a regular school day, with a regular class.
The instructor and I kept sort of looking at each other wondering what was going on.
A breakthrough perhaps?
Have we finally got to them?
Finally, some behavior that deserves what the VPs suggested, which was positive reinforcement.
We'll see how that goes and if the stunning shift in classroom attitudes sticks.
The Japanese have a saying "the nail that sticks up get hammered down" and I was thinking of this all last week.
Perhaps it was a combination of the positive things, plus the efforts to "hammer" down the negatives that worked.
A compromise of techniques if you will.
I also think it was about building trust and providing a safe and fair environment.
A classroom where interruptions were limited and everyone is treated the same.
I look forward this morning to seeing how this week finishes as next week we go into a one week break from school.
I sort of wish break was two weeks from now so we have more time to establish this new trend in behavior.
The positive reinforcement?
The rewards?
Yesterday, I showed them some basic optical illusion stuff that blew them away.
Today, I'll try more of the same.
I knew that stuff would come in handy one day.

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