Over Thinking

Many times I talk to teachers and give them suggestions to improve their classrooms. Now, before you go saying something like, "what right do you have to go into another teacher's classroom and tell them something" let me remind you that it's my JOB. I am a trainer. That's my title.

How did I get this title? Well, because I am very good at going into other people's classrooms and telling them how they can improve things. The job came to me; they asked me to do this job because I am good at it. Not to sound pompous, but it's my gift. I have a way of telling a person a better way to do something without them feeling like I'm insulting them. I'm not quite sure how I do it, but people take it really well from me and will even seek out my advice after having experienced this with me.

So, onto the topic at hand. There are times when I go into the classroom and suggest a new idea to the teacher and she thinks it's a great and fabulous idea and is all for it...but (yeah, you knew there was a but), "How do I introduce it to the children? How do I start this?"


Many times, like 99.99999% of the time, it's just a matter of doing it. Just jump in and the children will follow.

Let me give you a perfect example:

The other day I had a teacher sitting at my desk wanting some ideas to get them interested in writing and books. I suggested she make a class book. "Have the children draw a picture then dictate to you the story. Write the words, put the pages together, and then read their book at circle time when you gather again later." (this was on Monday).

Her response, "But, how do I get them to do this? How do I introduce this concept to them?"

"Just do it. They are familiar with books. They know that the words and pictures go together. At circle time, before you dismiss them to free choice, tell them 'at this table we will be making our own book. You can draw a picture and then I will write the words for you.' It's really that simple. Just like you introduce every other activity before you dismiss them."

That pretty much ended the conversation and she told me she would try it out. I knew she would; but I also have worked with her for several years and know that she wouldn't try it until she was ready. I was expecting it to take about a month.

Today is Wednesday; less than two days after we had this discussion. She came to me with a classroom book in hand, "Look, we made our first class book. They loved it; and when I read it they were so happy. They all got shy when I read their page. I don't want to put it out though because I'm afraid they'll rip it."

I am so proud that it took her such a short time to prepare herself mentally for this. But it also shows a huge growth for her. She has learned in all this time with me that she just has to do it. Jump right in and the children will follow.

That is my lesson to you all today. When you come across a new activity or even a new classroom practice, just jump right in and do it. Want to start a new conflict resolution policy with the children? Just make the change. You don't even need to discuss it with them; they will pick it up very quickly. Want to change your nap time routine? Just say, "Today, instead of putting our mats out before lunch, we are going to leave them until after lunch. When you clear your plate, you'll come over and get your mat."

That's it. No preparation for a small change is necessary. The hesitation for these changes really are with the adults in the environment. Take all the time you need to get comfortable with it; but the children will always follow you...as long as you are a good leader.

(side note: I did tell her to laminate the pages and, until then, put the book in a three ring binder. The children would be very careful with this book because they made it. This is a book that class will cherish for a long time...or at least until they make the next one.)

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