003_“These Kids Are Driving Me Crazy! Getting a Grip on Classroom Management”

Here are some links to resources I shared in this week’s Podcast!

I love my Degrees of Comfort Weighted Blanket !!  It is 60×80” and 15 lbs.  So calming to the body!

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Visual Schedules:

Instructions for Making a Visual Schedule  by Rochelle Lentini and Lise Fox  / University of South Florida

(From the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations website)

Helping Children Make Transitions

Link toArticle

Text of the Written Feedback provided to an Infant and Toddler Teacher:

Greetings, Ms.Kelli!

So sorry I missed you yesterday afternoon when you had to drive the bus – I wanted to make sure you got some feedback after the CLASS observations yesterday!

You are busy, busy busy!

Infant Room: I enjoyed seeing how much fun you have with the babies, and how connected the three of you are to each other.

·         For the learning dimension called “Support for Learning and Development,” the focus is on watching to see what the baby is interested in, and then expanding on it by encouraging the baby to do something a little bit more advanced. For example, if the baby is walking around the table, encouraging her to walk two steps to you, by holding out your hands. Or, if Jessie is leaving the play area and going to the table, perhaps bringing puzzles or coloring paper over to the table for him to try.  

·         For the dimension on Supporting Language, just keep doing what you are doing – you are being very responsive to their sounds and talking to them a whole lot.  I loved watching you stand at the window with Jessie and point to what he was seeing outside! You were labeling things and talking all about what he was seeing. He was soaking it up like a sponge!

·         You mentioned that you are still in the process of figuring out what kinds of things they like to do. I felt that you already have wonderful foundations in place, with your very secure, safe environment and your loving supportive relationships.  Since they are in the Sensori-Motor phase of development, they will enjoy any activity that involves stimulating the senses, and/or movement. (sensory play can be anything they touch, feel, manipulate, listen to, etc.  And Movement activities of course include dancing, crawling, climbing, going thru and under and over things, etc. )  When they engage in these activities, just keep on providing the close support and all the rich, descriptive language, like you have been doing!!

In the Infant CLASS dimension they call “Relational Climate,” we are looking for those positive, warm, connected interactions where you are supporting them and just loving on them. You did that well! Just a side note on that dimension, that if the baby does engage in any negative behavior or do something a little aggressive (as Jessie did when he went to take Ben’s toys), your response should remain very positive. It’s okay to intervene, to redirect the behavior or to distract the aggressor, but try to refrain from using the word “No” and/or any harsh tones or scolding words. It is absolutely fine to set limits on behavior and to stop the child when they are doing something that’s not safe. And at the same time, you can do that in a very positive way. An example might be to say “Oh – Jessie, we don’t want to take Ben’s toy! That will make him sad. Here’s one for you to play with here!”  Another example would be, if you’re playing with a baby and they impulsively hit you in the face, to say “Oh, owe! That hurts Ms. Kelli. Be gentle. Gentle. That’s nice.” In that moment you are teaching the child how to gain control of their aggressive impulse. If you respond with a scolding or mildly angry tone, this tends to just make them sad and angry themselves, in which case they tend to miss the learning that could of happened.

For the toddlers, your relationships and positive interactions again are super important. The more fun and positive experiences they have with you and the other teachers, the more safe they will feel there, and also the better they will behave. I could tell that you really have a fondness for all of the babies and toddlers there, and really enjoy their unique personalities.

For Toddlers and Preschoolers especially, it’s important to keep your interactions always on a positive note, and do not allow them to pull you into power struggles.  When 2-5 year olds resist doing something, or begin to engage in mild misbehavior (such as not complying with your request) it is very important to not jump into using a strict tone with them, as they will immediately dig their heels in and further resist…..this sets you up to be in a power struggle over what started out as a mild issue, and can turn it quickly into a bigger behavior problem.

For the Behavior Guidance dimension of the Toddler CLASS, a couple of things to note:

1)      Toddlers and preschoolers often have difficulty with transitions. They don’t want to clean up when it’s time; they don’t want to abruptly move on to another activity, etc. They sometimes need a little more time to “accept” that it’s time to do something else. A little more time to manage the anxiety that they feel. And every kid is different, so some kids have more anxiety than others. Some are therefore more or less compliant than others. We just need to remember that each one is different, and should be given time to adjust to the new expectations.

2)      The second thing to note is that all behavior is communication.  So when a child is engaging in a behavior, that behavior is usually telling us something. (“I don’t want to clean up.” Or “I’m jealous of this other kid so I’m going to cause a problem.” Or “I feel anxious.” Or “I’m frustrated. (so I have the urge to kick). Or “I need attention.”

For this dimension of the CLASS, it’s really important to look at the intentions of the whole dimension – which are a) to be proactive rather than reactive (prevent behaviors from developing whenever possible);  b) to provide a ton of support for positive behaviors; and c)to give guidance and support when a child does show a problem behavior.  Here are some specific ways to do those 3 things:

1)      to be proactive means you focus on the positives not the negatives (ignore as much as you can – as long as the child isn’t hurting someone or behaving dangerously, do not respond to the behavior as if the child is challenging you– even if it feels like they are!);

2)      with toddlers you really have to go over the top with positive statements, like “I just love the way Mihn is lining up to wash her hands!”

3)      try to use “attention to positive behavior” as a way to motivate the child who is misbehaving.

So for example, when Brandon would not go wash his hands before lunch and instead he walked around with a toy, the strategy would be as follows:

·         a) Ignore, ignore, ignore. Do not say anything about his refusal to line up; Don’t take it personally – this is not about Brandon trying to willfully disobey you; this is about Brandon feeling anxious about moving out of play and into lunch. (He knows that right after lunch is nap time, and that may also make him feel anxious and resistant – the older toddlers start figuring things like that out, and they think if they can delay lunch, they can delay nap)…..

·         b) Go over the top with other children who ARE lining up, and give them a ton of positive attention – “Oh my goodness, look how Mihn is listening, she lined right up and washed her hands! Thank you Mihn!” and “I just love it when all my friends wash their hands and come to the table!” (still ignoring Brandon)…. And then

·         c) If all the others have washed up and are starting to eat, and Brandon STILL hasn’t washed his hands, you can start commenting on how the other children are so hungry, and this food looks so yummy, etc. He must be hungry too….etc.   Also, you can mention that “I know how hard it is to put our toys away and stop playing so we can eat lunch. But our toys will be here for us later.”

·         Other positive strategies to try would include engaging Brandon in a playful transition into lunch by talking with him about his toy, having conversation about it (just to get him to stop and stay in one place), then asking if he’s hungry……does he need help to remember where the toy belongs? Then focusing in on talking about the yummy lunch and how he must be hungry…..

Interactions that will count more on the negative side for the dimensions of Negative Climate, Regard for Child Perspectives, and Behavior Guidance include:

a)       Being highly directive.

b)      Any use of a scolding tone.

c)       “No Sir! Not okay.” (Avoid the use of NO at all times, especially with a negative tone.)

d)      Using a threat or even a veiled threat such as “Do you want to put it away or do you need me to help you?”

e)      Using physical force to take away the toy, to move the child against his will, or to set a child down.

Interactions that should be used instead of those include:

a)       Distraction – (while you ignore a misbehavior, you suggest a different behavior)

b)      Stating your commands in a question form: “Who would like to be next to wash their hands?” or “Are you ready to wash your hands for lunch?” or “Who can show me how to do a really good job washing up for lunch?” or “Who’s gonna be my special lunch helper? Okay well you gotta have clean hands then!”

c)       Use of encouragement as a strategy for redirecting a misbehavior – “Show me how you can do it! I know you can do it!”

d)      Tons of attention should be put on positive behaviors!!

e)      Specific praise about what the child did well – “Wow, you found exactly where that toy goes! Now we will have it right there for later.”

As teachers, we have the option of either controlling kids’ behaviors, which is only a temporary fix; or we have the option of using the behaviors to teach them a correct behavior or skill. But they will only be open to learning from us if we are really positive and supportive and we don’t move into a negative space at all.

Over all, Ms. Kelli, I want to commend you on HOW HARD YOU WORK! You are there for EVERYONE, and you keep a very positive and cheerful attitude – You can be (and probably are) a leader there! It’s clear how much love you have for your families and your co-workers.  I encourage you to keep on digging in to the teaching materials, explore and experiment with what the babies respond to, and then keep using your BEST asset, which is your RELATIONSHIPS with them and your fondness for them – to keep on exposing them to new concepts, new words every day, new experiences. And continue developing your own positive strategies such as the ones introduced in the CLASS – you can really be a model other teachers will want to emulate!

Thanks for your hospitality – and best of luck with your work!


Sara Beach

CLASS Observer