Can't Smile 'Till December...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by YoungTeacherGuy, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Sep 20, 2011

    The other day, one of my co-workers told me that she tries not to smile until the second semester. I'm not sure if she was half joking or not, but she seemed pretty darn serious.

    I've never agreed with this philosophy. I smile and laugh every day. My kids are so incredibly hilarious.

    Trust me, I can be firm and serious when necessary, but there are times when the kids just make me want to smile! :D
     
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  3. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I agree. I smile from the get-go. I think the whole, "Don't smile until December/Christmas" just means, you really need to be strict and on top of them in the beginning and then you can relax a bit once they get the routine/procedures/rules/understand your boundary/etc. I think people really take that saying seriously! Very sad...
     
  4. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Sep 21, 2011

    It's something that a few veteran teachers that I respect have said... and I agree with it! Which is not to say I'd do it... like you, that's not my personality.

    But it does work. And come the end of the year, those kids have as much/more admiration for that strict teacher than any other. It's a tried and true sort of philosophy IMO.
     
  5. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    It definitely doesn't mean don't smile or have humor. It means make sure you've built consistency and structure early and strong. You'll still have to be consistency throughout the year but the more you build that you mean what you say early and nip it in the bud, the easier the rest of the year is. Another saying my dad said growing up is, "Give an inch, take a mile." It's true. That doesn't mean you can't loosen up, but generally speaking if you do it too soon, kids tend to not know where the boundaries are yet and it can potentially become an issue.
     
  6. MissMatty

    MissMatty Rookie

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    I used it, not literally, but the idea as it was explained to me by other teachers: That you can always get softer, but it is difficult, if not impossible to get stricter.
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 21, 2011

    I think it can get out of control.

    Until you find your own teaching persona, it makes sense to guard against being too friendly too early.

    But it's not what I do. I'm me from the very first day; my demeanor in the classroom doesn't really change as the year progresses. I don't get easier, but I don't get harder either. I'm just me.

    In fact, one or two parents told me at orientation that their kids are very relieved to have a teacher who was so friendly.

    But make no mistake: we work bell to bell and we get a lot done. There IS no fooling around.
     
  8. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Oh, you should definitely be yourself and definitely not be a grouch. But I do think setting the guidelines earlier and being less flexible in the beginning than you might be later after you've established boundaries and get to know the kids better is the way to go. Too often I see people inconsistently reinforcing procedures or boundaries from the get go. Then they wonder why as the year progresses they have so many problems and why they can't seem to get a handle on it. (Disclaimer: not talking about extreme cases here).
     
  9. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Sep 21, 2011

    This goes against all modern brain research that says a relaxed, connected brain is far more active than one that is passive.
     
  10. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I agree with Rockyguy. Creating connections with your students, creating a nurturing environment in which they thrive because they don't feel stressed is important. There is a difference between being friendly and being friends. Some teachers cross the line and lose their leadership role which is a problem. You can still have good classroom management without being a grumpy tyrant.
     
  11. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Naturally that is not a phrase to be taken literally. I smile and act pleasant from day one, but I'm very "no-nonsense" from day one as well. I can be pleasant and in control at the same time. Some people can't. I have worked with people who only managed to be friendly by letting their guard down, and the kids ran the show. I've also seen sour, grumpy teachers who also lacked control.

    I prefer to be pleasant and happy because it makes my day better. I also like things my way, so the kids always know who is in charge.
     
  12. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    That sounds a bit outdated...like if you spare the rod you spoil the child. I think you have to ask yourself if you want to create an environment that is filled with tension and kids thinking you don't "like" them or if you want them to feel accepted. Not everyone takes a smile as an indication that anarchy can reign.
     
  13. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    I actually disagree. I think it is literal... the point is to be sort of a grouch--a strict, demanding grouch. (Not an unreasonable, mean :mad: grouch.) Also, I don't really agree that it's an outdated idea. This thread sorta highlights it.
     
  14. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    It's interesting what a smile denotes to different people.

    I don't associate smiling with demanding vs easygoing.

    Nor do I associate demanding with lack of being able to feel safe or tension.

    Nor do I associate this phrase with the mean grouch who never smiles and who taught the class with fear then suddenly got friendly.
     
  15. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Meh, I guess it's what works for you then. :)

    I've taught fifth grade for a year. I've taught kinder for three. I've taught 2nd through 6th grade math. For all of the years I worked, I've always been myself the whole entire year. I'm strict. Period. But I'm also nice and caring. Period. I've ALWAYS had the most well behaved class. Respect is my number one rule in class. That's all I really ask.
     
  16. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    I would say that Ima Teacher's post is a perfect description of me, too. I'm super-friendly, but I'm also super-assertive, and the students know that the classroom operates in a certain way! The students don't test me as much as they test other teachers on my team, and I'm sure it's for that reason.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 23, 2011

    This thread just occurred to me as I was typing a response to another thread.

    There's a huge downside to the whole "start off super stern, then lighten up" attitude.

    Sometimes your kids need to see you as a person before the calendar tells you to lighten up.

    Yesterday I had a kid pass out in my class. She was borderline unconscious for several minutes-- able to mumble answers to my questions, but nothing intelligible, not able to pick her head up off the desk or assist at all in getting her into a wheel chair.

    As I've mentioned, I'm not a "stern till Christmas" kind of teacher. I've been friendly and light since day one. So when Ally was in distress, I was able to provide her a little comfort-- "Ally, it's Mrs. A. It's OK, honey, you're going to be fine..." type of stuff.

    I'm not sure it would have been as comforting had she been afraid of me.

    And, for the record, yesterday was day 13 of classes. Had I started off stern, I most certainly would have still been in that mode.

    I'm glad I wasn't.
     

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