recently had an experience during a classroom coaching visit that made me see
the Developmental Designs redirection
tool Fix It on the Spot in a new light. The students responded to the teacher’s
slightest prompting, and followed her directions almost immediately.
very few Developmental Designs practices
I could only guess that she had used practices to scaffold early
in the year the successful behaviors I was seeing, but I wanted to make sure.
began our debriefing time with a simple question:
“How did you bring your
students to this point? What’s your secret?”
she said, “I guess I’m more stubborn than they are during the first few weeks
“What do you mean? Stubborn?
the first days and weeks, I model everything, and then I refuse to accept
do you do when a student gives you less?”
stop, and have her try it again.”
if several students are off?”
stop and have the group try it again.”
right away. They keep making mistakes for a while.”
do you do when they keep making mistakes?”
say, ‘try it again; I know you can do it.’ And I smile.”
for most kids.”
about those who keep messing up?”
take them aside, right when they don’t follow the expectation, to make sure
they understand how what they did wasn’t good enough, and how to do it right.
Then, I say, ‘try it again; I know you can do it.’ And I smile.”
every year, after a month, it’s always pretty much like you see it today.”
into Developmental Designs speak, Fix
It on the Spot is this teacher’s go-to redirect during the all-important first few
weeks of the school year. When students knowingly or unknowingly test her, she
refuses to budge. Not one inch. And she does it confidently, always expressing
faith in her students’ abilities, and with a smile. A few students need extra
assistance-quick conferences-right before they fix their mistakes.
great power in this.
during a debriefing chat with the school principal, I mentioned the teacher’s effectiveness,
and asked her to shed any additional light on how this teacher does it.
comes into my office just about in tears every day for the first few weeks of
wasn’t expecting this!
she knows how well behaved they will
soon become, but at first I think it’s daunting for her. She sees how far she
has to go, and how hard the work is to bring them to that place. I leave a box
of tissues near my door. When she comes in, I just point to the box, say, ‘You’re
fine,’ and she leaves. After a while, she stops coming. It takes her a couple
this teacher does during the first few weeks of each school year is exhausting, but it makes the rest of her school year a
rich, often joyful experience. I’ve never seen students as happy and as
responsibly independent as hers are. She deserves all the credit for creating these
optimal learning conditions.
the approach: carefully set each expectation, then hold each student
accountable by using Fix It on the Spot.
A few will need some quick
Be stubborn. And have a box of tissues handy.
Chris Hagedorn is the co-author of Classroom Discipline: Guiding Adolescents to Responsible Independence.
Posted June 2013