Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What Did You Do to Brandon?!

In my early days of teaching I was scared to death that I would encounter a "Brandon." You've probably met him. He's the one you sit beside during assemblies, the one who requires constant redirection; the one whose name you say at least 200 times a day. In those days I didn't know what to do with him. What if I told him to do something and he didn't do it? What if he has a temper tantrum that I can't stop? WHAT IF I CAN'T CONTROL HIM?

Then one day I realized that I don't have to control him. I've learned that classroom management is less about "managing behavior" and more about establishing a sense of community and trust, and providing each student with what he/she needs.

That's the knowledge that came in to play this week as I've been blessed to teach the Kindergarten-age students during VBS at church. I have a "Brandon." He is a loving, sweet child, but he tends to overreact when things don't go his way. Once he gets worked up its almost impossible for him to control his emotions. We were in the middle of one of these episodes (not sure what brought it on), when without very much thought at all, I walked over to Brandon took him outside and just stood with him in the corner for a few minutes. I talked softly, yet firmly to him about calming down. I then showed him how to take deep breaths. In a few minutes we walked back into the classroom, Brandon rejoined the group, and my co-teacher asked in amazement, "What did you do to Brandon?!"

It was really only at that point that I actually thought about what I had done. Nothing earth-shattering or novel. I simply gave him what he needed. Adult one-on-one attention. Time away from the situation. Time to cool down. Tools to help calm himself.

I'm not sure how or when it happened, but along the way I've learned that behavior management doesn't necessarily mean doling out punishments and rewards. Instead of doing something TO Brandon, I did something FOR Brandon. Huge difference from the teacher I was in 2000. It's nice to be on this side of the behavior management fence. No longer do I fear children like "Brandon." I cherish them!

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