Recommending how to become a "warm and fuzzy" teacher

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by BioAngel, May 31, 2011.

  1. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    May 31, 2011

    This was my first year of doing a lot of new things:
    -- 3 times as many students as before
    -- taught 3rd and 4th grade
    -- brand new school for me
    -- can design the curriculum to my liking
    (among other things)

    One of the issues (not a big one but something that has come to light recently) is that apparently some of the students that I have think I'm "mean"... one student used "bullying" which is absolutely shocking me to me since that I adore that particular student very much.

    I know I'm not the type who likes to hug or pat on the shoulder-- I don't personally like to be touched by other people besides family and close friends. But I know that some students might see such affection as "this teacher likes me".

    I'm also not the type to praise every correct answer or use a happy tone with every explanation. I come from a family where straight face, no expression was perfectly fine and we used our words to convey emotion.

    I've worked hard on smiling more often but I feel so fake when I do that. I try to have a gentle tone in my voice as often as possible.

    I also know that different students need different levels of love from their teachers. I use to want hugs from my Mom constantly otherwise I didn't feel loved--- I know this can be true of students too. And I know that "hugs" can be replaced with "nice words", "questions about their lives", etc too.

    So any suggestions on how you are a warm and fuzzy teacher to your kids? ALL of the teachers at my school are and so I know I sorta have to get with the program of good bye job.

    I want to be able to end the year well and have this little issue taken care of for next year. My principal is going to brainstorm stuff too but I'd like to get some suggestions/ideas from other teachers ahead of time.
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    A few things that I do: give the class praise when they are doing well/following directions, comment on the students hard work or new haircut, talk to the students about what is going on outside of school, write good news notes and mail them to parents/students
     
  4. VANewbie

    VANewbie Devotee

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    Bio I am the same way and I work with the little ones. I would never be labeled as a bully but sometimes you can tell my students want to hug me but they are scared.
    I just do not like t show emotion and I know a lot of teachers use the baby talk or use cute words like "good job smarty pants"
    Its so hard for me.

    But on the other hand I am a very nice caring teacher. I also send nice notes home.
     
  5. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    I second the good news notes and my behavior management plan really helps me stay positive and stay connected in that warm fuzzy way. My behavior management plan is really- catch them being good- we earn compliments- one from the P or VP is worth 2 stickers one from me or anyone else is worth 1 sticker. We earn stickers for every compliment and work towards a goal like if we reach 20 more stickers we will get ___________ (generally a fun artsy/craft or a fun graph- like graphing m&ms or skittles or whatever that we were going to do anyhow and as soon as it is earned we drop everything and do it to really make it special)- so I already have everything necessary on hand or at least the basic idea of what we can do if the goal sneaks up on me at the last minute- which surprisingly it can.
    Then I have to see the good and be super vocal about it and keep everyone else motivated and positive too all at the same time. That works for me.
     
  6. VANewbie

    VANewbie Devotee

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    I do all of the positive behavior things you have listed.
     
  7. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I guess you need to be a "warm and fuzzy" teacher in order to prepare them for all the "warm and fuzzy" bosses and college professors they'll have as adults.
     
  8. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    There is a big jump Sarge from elementary to boss. I have seen a teacher that was otherwise a good teacher but lost her job because students couldn't relate to her easily. At this age, it means being nurturing. I commend Bio for recognizing this. The good news is you teach upper elementary. They need less warm and fuzzy than the younger ones do.

    Ironically our school does the PBIS thing and uses reward "dollars" and I always said it helps the teachers more than the kids. Some teachers don't naturally seek out positive praise and this reminds them to do that. I am on the fence with token systems but I'm not on the fence with giving positive praise especially at this level when they need so much more reinforcement to develop the skills we are trying to teach them.
     
  9. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Look into Buckets of Kindness and see if this is something you could implement.
     
  10. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    I would look more into the bullying comment than trying to become something you're not. Sometimes we don't realize how the things we said can be taken and you are working with small children. I don't think that you are saying or doing anything intentional but we need to be more aware of what we say and what we do. :hugs:
     
  11. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Something else I've been more open this year than in prior teaching years to my students-- as a child I had bad ear infections/aches that has since damaged my hearing a little. Sometimes I honestly raise my voice to make sure I'm talking loudly for everybody to hear-- maybe I'm just talking too loudly and it's upsetting the students/giving the wrong impression??

    I haven't mentioned this to my principal or other faculty because I'm still shy about it--- this hearing issue affected my speech as well and I was horribly teased about it as a child, so its still uncomfortable sometimes for me to bring it up and at the same time I don't want to make excuses.

    But it could be one of the reasons why a child might think I'm upset with them.

    I'd really love to find out what I did specifically to make a child feel I was bullying them. I really love each of my students so it hurts me really badly to hear that one of them feels this way.
     
  12. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I agree with you Sarge completely--- these students, if they're never shown a little tough love, will completely fail in the real world. I do mention to them that we are practicing certain skills or learning certain topics because they will need to be able to use those skill or knowledge to be successful in college. Even that motivates my 3rd graders a lot!

    It's simply the environment that parents want to see at this school--- we're a religious school so the environment of love is very important to us. And since I really do enjoy working where I am, I want to make a good impression (and I have with most students and parents) and show my students how much I love them.

    And I do know how to be nice to kids (don't get me wrong). One group really became close to me after I told them that when I pray the Rosary, I dedicate one bead to each of them. :)

    I'm going to focus more on finding strategies to help me handle a few issues:
    1. Quietly down students (it is always 1 or 2 students that drive me nuts when everybody else is focused and listening)

    2. Helping students remember the beginning procedures and how we end class. (I haven't changed them since Sept so I don't know why we're still having issues)

    And I really need a huge helping of "ignore it as long as the child is not hurting themselves or somebody else". That is really hard for me too.
     
  13. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I love the good news notes! I really think this is so important that parents and students do get to hear some great things about what the child has been doing. Hopefully next year I'll start that.

    Do you let the child read the note before it goes home? I have 151 students so I'm not sure if I could mail out notes, but I could staple something to their copybook.
     
  14. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    I do not mail the good news notes- I send them home after reading them aloud to the class- if it is more of a personal one with a special note I will read it to the child only, but share with the rest of the class who got the note and why in general terms
     
  15. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I was raised in a household that was very affectionate! My mom is also a teacher and she and I have similar teaching styles. I have been described by my former and current principals as "firm yet loving."

    I don't think that being "warm and fuzzy" is something that can really be taught--it either does or doesn't come natural for each teacher. I think some people are just more "hands-on" than others (i.e., hugs, pats on the back, high fives, etc). Personally, though, I tend to create an environment in which students know I truly care. When I speak to them, I usually crouch down or sit on my knees so we're eye-to-eye. I smile a lot, too. The smiling aspect comes natural for me, though, because I get so incredibly excited when they get correct answers (or when I see the lightbulb go on).

    I tend to walk around the classroom when kids are doing their independent work and give them a little hug when I see they're working hard. I also tend to notice (and make them feel special) when they're wearing something new or have a new haircut.

    Oh, I also greet each student as they walk in the classroom each morning!

    Like I said--all these things just come natural for me. My kids know I love them and I hope they remember me when they're older!
     
  16. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    BioAngel, I can totally relate because I am the same way with my students. I also don't like hugging students or when students hug me. In fact, my district has a policy about hugs. We are not allowed to initiate hugs. I get very nervous when a student hugs me so hugs are usually saved for last day of school or special occassion.

    I also don't like to engage in conversations about my personal life with my students. I know I can come accross as mean and cold but I also joke and make the students laugh many times.
    I do try to make a point of giving more compliments as I also don't like to freely give them for any reason.

    This is why I feel my personality is better suited for older students.
     
  17. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I'm not always super touchy-feely or anything like that. I implemented the "handshake high five hug" for when my students leave the room. They can request whichever they want. Even my older kids (up to 5th grade) seem to like it. I also sometimes tag that on to an "exit question" for them to leave the room. Also taking a little time to ask the kids about their personal lives goes a long way. They really appreciate it and it shows that you care about them and not just their school work.
     
  18. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Letting the kids know that you are interested in them personally is a good idea.

    Noticing and commenting on the new clothes, new shoes, haircut, being personal about yourself as in "I really love spahetti, but I hate eating it at someone else's house."

    If they feel that you are listening to them and relating to them, they feel liked. You can still be stern or strict, but it doesn't seem to bother them if they know you like them. (Or think you do! :) )
     
  19. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Bio, I have been accused of being "distant", "disconnected", and "uncaring". What it always boils down to though is my lack of "warm and fuzziness" with the kids. I teach upper elementary, and your op could be describing my demeanor. I am not a soft, grandmotherly sort, but I am not the militant/scary teacher either. I do praise the class, notice new haircuts and shoes, give encouragement, and make positive statements about wise/good choices. For some people that simply isn't enough. I don't have any advice to offer, and for that I am sorry. Apparently, I need to enroll in the school of warm fuzzies as well. :unsure:
     
  20. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    When I had my first evaluation, something that was pointed out to me was that my "praise" was weak and vague. After that, I made a point of noticing and it really was. I threw in some, "good job"s and things like that, but nothing specific and on point. I started putting popcorn kernels in my pockets (I tend to put my hands in my pockets a lot) and every time I would feel one, I would find something to praise and transfer it to the other pocket. I only did this for a few weeks and the habit was formed. Personally, I don't think you should force the "warm and fuzzy" thing too much. The kids will know. Be kind and be fair and they will love you for it.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    "Learning From Mistakes Only Works After Age 12, Study Suggests"

    I recently read this older 2008 article that discussed how unexpected it was to find that the brain of a younger child processes information differently. The study suggested negative feedback actually does little to teach a child 8 and 9 years old. Their brain barely regsiters the information.

    Short article and I am sure there is much more to the research, but catching them doing right and pointing it out reinforces the positive behaviors but being negative does nothing. No wonder so many say it is like it goes in one ear and out the other. Well, brain activity shows it doesn't even register! Wish I knew that years ago.
     
  22. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I guess I could never be employed by your district.

    The day my district tells me that hugging isn't allowed is the day I find another profession!
     
  23. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Today was a good day--- I watched my tone, I watched the level of my voice (to think when I started teaching I was told I was way too quiet-- now I'm sometimes too loud), and I showered my 3rd graders with praise after praise for their good job on the science test (overall they did great and the information wasn't easy).

    One of the girls who I "bully" was all over me today--- running up to me many times, wanting to share this story or that, and she is actually EXCITED about her science test tomorrow.

    I was sitting in my room today thinking about another student I "bully" and I only see exactly what the first girl shows-- happiness, excited to share, etc. She's a little more quiet but she's a good kid.

    So I'm dumbstruck. I wonder if this is just parents wanting to complain, but I also know that yes there are ways I can improve my classroom management and my own patience level.

    I'm doing a gummy worm experiment with 4 classes so hopefully that will leave us all on a good note. And it does make me feel better that I'm not the only one who has been labeled this way-- I'm glad there is hope for me.

    (One of my cutest 3rd graders-- who I swear is going to be a scientist of some sort-- gave me not one but TWO hugs today. That made me feel warm and fuzzy :) )
     
  24. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I understand that districts have to be careful these days, but I find policies like this incredibly sad as well! I remember when I was in elementary my mom volunteered at my school and they were told hugs weren't allowed- and that was about 15 years ago! I'm sooo glad my district is not this way. My P hugs the kids too! I worked at a Y in high school where hugs weren't allowed. They would tell us that if a kid looked like they were going to hug you, you were supposed to put up your hand for a high five instead. I understand the logic, but to a kid that looks like you're putting up your hand as in a "get away from me" gesture! One year they finally settled on "side hugs" as being okay. It's sad that we have to think this way!
     
  25. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I'm glad that things went well for you today!!

    By the way - :hijack: - care to share the gummy worm experiment? :D

     
  26. AsherDasher

    AsherDasher Companion

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    :lol:
     
  27. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I haven't read any of the responses; I'm trying to knock off a few more college recommendations and am taking a very brief break.

    But I think there's a very delicate balance between developing a more "warm fuzzy" teacher persona and being true to yourself.

    As you've probably noticed, I'm not the type of teacher to start the year with team building and gettign to know you games. It simply isn't my style, and I wouldn't feel comfortable pretending it was. I start the first day with the material, and assign homework that first day. So, in the beginning, it's all about content.

    But the kids do get to know me as the year goes on. Some little things I do to make them happy are personalized stickers (via vistaprint) on their 90+ tests-- you wouldn't believe how cooll they think those stickers are!! My homeroom has a list of each month's birthdays, and I make an effort to keep on top of whose birthday it it. We laugh a lot in my class- as much at my own mistakes as theirs. If I hear over the mornng annoucements that someone had a good day at yesterday's game, they know they can expect a comment from me.

    I also think my class policies are kid-friendly. My kids are allowed to miss,then make up for full credit, up to 3 homeworks per marking period, and I make sure the parents know this. I also have a 20 minute rule: 20 minutes of real work, and their homeowrk is over. There's always tomorrow to get extra help; no 15 year old should be up all night doing geometry. I give al the test dates for the year that first week, and I make sure that everyone knows exactly what's on the test.

    I think the kids and their parents appreciate that I realize that my math class isn't their only priority.

    Also, for what it's worth, 8 year old Kira calls her brother a "bully" every time he doesn't do what she wants. It ould be getting her a glass of milk, or getting off the computer. We're working on getting her to understand what the word actually means, but I'm not sure I would sweat one kid's interpretation.
     
  28. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I know my kids respond better to positive reinforcement, although I use both. My kids definitely like to be praised, and I like to recognize them for their good efforts. Just like as an adult, occasionally it is nice to be recognized for our efforts.

    Might I also suggest that you perhaps try to relate to them more, and share personal stories with them occasionally (maybe this is something you are already doing). I don't see anything wrong with being a bit softer.
     
  29. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    I'm not warm and fuzzy, either! I've got more of a "coach" personality. I tell it like it is, and most students appreciate it because they know I care. I like to laugh and have fun in class, but we are always accomplishing something. I accept hugs and dole them out when kids are really upset, but I am not the mother/grandmother type. I think the key is (and you seem to have found this out today) to give honest praise!

    Glad you had a good day. :)
     
  30. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    That's wonderful. You know, I was thinking, and I think it is possible that the student who used that word might not have a real understanding of what it actually means.
     
  31. MandaNicole01

    MandaNicole01 Habitué

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    :yeahthat:

    Banning hugs?! I'm speechless! I can't imagine banning hugs in my kindergarten classroom! That's like telling them not to play! :eek:hmy:

    I'm a warm fuzzy teacher and it's just something I do. My dad teaches too and former students we have both had say we are similar in our actions. Personality and natural traits are hard to change! I teach kinder and I think warm and fuzzy should be required for these little guys! I greet each one in the morning as they come in my classroom. I smile A LOT! And, I try to have an individual conversation with each one sometime throughout the day. I realize, you teach more children for a shorter amount of time, so that might not be possible. I'm glad you had a good day!:)
     
  32. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Students can have bad days. It happens. That doesn't mean that it isn't important to watch the effect we have on them or analyze our overall demeanor and make sure they feel safe, loved, etc. I think there are a lot of ways to do this that don't necessarily include hugging. Each of us has our own groove. It can work or not work with a particular grade level, but in the end whatever we decide that does work has to come from our personality as well. Faking who you are isn't necessarily the best answer. You can improve different techniques and find different solutions but in the end, it has to fit you too.

    Chances are you are doing a lot of things right. Why not write what DOES work and then see if there are areas you can increase that work with that style. Just a thought.

    Another thing is that you may want to go warm and fuzzy with parents. I just mean communicate often about the positives of their child so that when there is something negative, they already really know just how much you care.
     
  33. MandaNicole01

    MandaNicole01 Habitué

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    SO TRUE!!! I love the idea about warm and fuzzy with the parents!!! :) I send home weekly newsletters to my parents to keep them informed...of course, you teach older kids and they can honestly relay the information...my kids get confused!;) Anyways, I also email parents from time to time to brag on their children. This is quicker for me than handwriting a note...I never have time to sit down and write a note during the day! Or quick phone calls work too!!!:)
     
  34. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    The premise of this thread bugs me a little.

    Being a male first grade teacher, I really feel it when somebody has the expectation that I am the kids second mom or dad.

    I'm not that. I'm their teacher.

    Now don't get me wrong, you have to be positive and caring. And it's OK to have a sense of humor, and to be nice. But teachers often have expectations their students that their parents don't have of their children.

    For example, when a six year old writes a birthday card for grandma, mom doesn't mind if it has misspellings or punctuation errors.

    But when a six year old writes an essay for For me, I do mind. And I have no problem telling children when they have made mistakes. And if telling a child they have made a mistake causes them to cry, well, then it's my job to tell them that when they fix the mistake they will no longer have a reason to cry. But to be honest, I think I'm doing them a disservice if I console them any further than that. Saying "That's all right, that's OK," isn't really true. It's not OK until they have fixed it.
     
  35. Ambrosegirl84

    Ambrosegirl84 Companion

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    Sarge, I think we have some ideals in common. I had a mini-personal crisis this year because it seemed that the students preferred my aide to me. They were always laughing at her jokes, hugging her, choosing her over me, etc. I was always the "mean" one that punished sloppy homework.

    My aide is wonderful and great at what she does. She also happens to be a "warmer" person than I am. She calls the kids "buddy", hugs them, etc., which is fine.

    I finally figured it would be unnatural for my personality to be that way toward the kids, and that it was okay that the kids respected me as an authority figure but not as a "mom." (although I've been called "Mom" several times and "Grandpa" once :D)

    I try to make an effort to praise kids when praise is due. But if a kid whips through an assignment and does a crappy job, they'll be doing it over--tears or not! ;)
     
  36. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    I am the same way. I'm a teacher and it's my job for them to learn. I'm there to help them but I'm also there to correct their mistakes.

    Of the 3 teachers in my cluster I'm the strictest one and even students complain and say that I'm mean. I don't take this to heart considering that for them being nice means letting them do whatever they want.

    I had a parent conference once where the student told the mom (in front of me) that I was mean and that I was always getting on her case. She said that she liked the science teacher so much better since she was so nice all the time. When I asked her what grade she was getting in science she said she was getting an F. I asked her and her mom that if they wanted me to be nice and allow the student to fail I could do that. The mom realized that my style is tough love and she appreciated it. After that conference she turned around and started doing very well.

    I hear constantly students telling me they like other teachers because they're fun and nice. I've also heard some students tell me that they feel more protected in my room because of my strict rules. I think that because I work with students with behavior problems I need to use tough love with them.
     
  37. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    In basic training, the drill sergeant was very quick to praise us when we did something right.

    There was nothing sweet about it, and the praise would often come when he was 2" from our face screaming at us. But that praise was probably more meaningful to me than anything my "warm and fuzzy" teachers ever said or did.
     
  38. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    My son's second-grade teacher isn't warm and fuzzy. In fact, at the school board meeting deciding on her tenure there were protests from some parents (she was granted tenure regardless).

    She's not warm and fuzzy (i.e., she raises her voice, probably relatively regularly), but she gets results. The kids learn. For a lot of parents, that's the bottom line.

    Maybe you could be the tiger mother they don't have otherwise...
     
  39. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Jun 2, 2011

    My mouth is literally open in shock as I read this thread. I am so confused.

    You sound like a fabulous teacher. It's sad that you are even concerned about this and wasting energy on this. There's a possibility of losing your job over not being 'warm and fuzzy.' This is a disgrace.

    I can't even think of what to say, but I do agree with Alice & Sarge.

    I really would not change who I am as a person to please the principal, parents or students. Of course we all need to make improvements here and there and I would change things that would make me a more effective and successful teacher, but I would not change anything about myself or my teaching style about something so minor, subjective, and open to all types of interpretation. You will never please everybody all of the time.
     
  40. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Jun 2, 2011

    Going back to the first post, it was about being mean. Someone else said "warm and fuzzy".

    I think it is entirely possible to build great relationships, be kind and not mean with word choice/level (and tone or loundess as Bio pointed out can be an issue) but still not be the warm and fuzzy personality.

    Often it is how you present the information that you need to get across to the student (or reader).

    I think it was great that the moderation of the voice level and some changes really brought about a difference in the kids! I think if you are cognizant of the fact that some are taking your words or voice level badly, you will be quickly able to adjust and after some time of thinking about it, you will come to do it unconciously.

    Isn't teaching also always learning?
     
  41. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jun 2, 2011

    Actually, the OP used those exact words in the subject line of this thread.
     

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