I had an interesting discussion with a teacher the other day after observing in her classroom for three days straight.  Why three days?  Because there is something drastically going wrong in her classroom with children’s behaviors and we, myself included, have never been able to figure out exactly what is wrong in there.

Why?  Because when you go in there for one day you see some FABULOUS teaching skills, GREAT activities, GOOD discipline techniques, and some standard transition/clean up/circle activities; so it’s been VERY DIFFICULT to figure out why there is CONSISTENTLY 5-6 challenging children in the classroom all the time even when some of those 5-6 children leave the program and new ones are introduced.

Come on, those of you who are in this field, what are the chances of having SIX very challenging children in one classroom of a great (or even mediocre) teacher?

The answer is: VERY SLIM!

So we KNOW it has to be the environment and the adults in the environment, but between THREE of us administrators and TWO counselors, we have never been able to put our finger on it because we each go in for one day at a time.

It was requested that I go spend THREE DAYS a week until further notice to help her out and figure out what is going wrong with the first week spent only doing observations.

It wasn’t until the third day that I FINALLY put my finger on it…NO TWO DAYS WERE EVER THE SAME!

Heck, no two TRANSITIONS were ever the same.  No two days of DISCIPLINE were ever the same!  When there is no routine the children don’t know what to expect and they go insane!

Want examples?  Well, one morning the children gathered in front of the cubbies (no I don’t know why that location) to sing songs until it was time to wash hands for breakfast; the next day there was NO gathering before going to wash hands; and the next they gathered at the circle area.

One day I heard her say, “I used my ‘P’ word” ever time she asked a child to do something and they didn’t do it (so many times I wanted to run from the room screaming and smack that phrase right out of her); another day she got down on their level and worked with them; and another she said their name, counted to 3, and gave up.

One day they had circle after breakfast, one day they had circle just before lunch, and one day they didn’t have circle at all!

IN ONE DAY one transition was to walk around and warn the children about clean up approaching, one transition was to turn off the lights to let the children know it was clean up, one transition was to blow a whistle (and yes, I wanted to shove that whistle down her throat).

So do you see?  There was NO consistency.  I flat out told her I don’t care WHICH you choose, just choose ONE…well, except the whistle, I won’t allow her to choose the whistle.

The thing about my job that I love is when I have a teacher who is an open book and is so willing to listen and really head my words and advice; someone who recognizes that I know what I’m doing and is so willing to learn…luckily that is her!

The one thing that struck me, however, was when I commented about her inconsistency she replied, “I’m flexible.  I change something when it isn’t working.”

My response?  “Yes, it’s GREAT to be flexible.  But flexible isn’t ‘Circle didn’t work yesterday so we aren’t going to try it again’; flexible is ‘We’re at circle right now, the children are wiggly and need to move, so instead of reading this book we are going to get up and dance.’  This way they KNOW it’s gathering time every day at this time.  It’s routine.”

I go back in next week to work closely with her in implementing these things…I think it will be good!

What’s your definition of flexible?  What’s your clean-up routine?  Am I completely wrong for wanting to shove that whistle down her throat?

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