Home > Choices > Children, jobs…and border collies

Children, jobs…and border collies

After my post on the impact of voice and movement on classroom management, my sister Leigh and I talked for awhile about her experiences working with kids.  One of the things we talked about was telling kids what to do before you need them to do it.  For instance, she shared how she brought a group of second graders back to their classroom last week and told them before they went inside, “I want everyone to sit quietly at their desks and finish the books they started this morning, and your teacher will be really impressed when she comes back” – and they sat down and read quietly.

What so many people do in that situation is to let the kids tumble into the room, talking and moving and finding their own things to do, then try to get the kids’ attention to tell them to stop talking and read a book.  This usually results in the kids getting yelled at for not listening, even though it’s not really their fault since they didn’t know what they should have been doing.

Giving kids a job before they enter a new situation is a lot like the advice given to new border collie owners.  Border collies need jobs and if they aren’t given one they’ll make one up.  To live together happily you need to give the dog a job you enjoy, too, because you probably won’t like the one they come up with.

Like border collies, kids need jobs.  They need to be doing something all the time and if they’re not given directions on what to do they’ll find something to do on their own.  That’s great during playtime, but it can be a disaster in the classroom.  Clear, upfront directions create sane, livable classrooms.

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  1. April 1, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Very good advice. A teacher should always set expectations so that children know what is expected of them!

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