Issue 53: “Don’t smile until Christmas”

I was given this magic mantra by a reception teacher early in my teaching career. Many teachers still work by this “Golden Rule”.

I’m not sure what we, as teachers, are trying to achieve by spending the best part of four months with a frown on our face, apart from prematurely wrinkled foreheads.

A lot of class mis-behaviour is, dare I say, the teacher’s fault. And I include myself in this accusation. There is NO WAY that a class of children will give you their full attention when they are holding a drum in one hand, and a beater in the other. They WILL play the drum, and then they WILL get into trouble. You can avoid the whole situation by getting them to put the drum AND the beater out of reach until it is time to play. Then you say “I wonder if you can all pick up your instrument without making a sound”. If it takes several goes at the silent pick up until they actually manage it, you can challenge them to do it first time next week.

Nor can children be expected to sit still without chattering or fidgeting while you plug in and set up the CD player, find the disk and track and then work out why there is no sound coming out. The best plan is always to set it all up beforehand. If this is not possible, challenge them to see if you can get it set up while they sing a song, or play a known rhythm game. You could even give them 30 seconds “chatter time”, so that they havebeen given permission to chat, while you frantically get everything going. I have been known to involve the class in listening out for the correct track as I blip through all the snips and snaps on the CD. This can be great fun, and comes under the heading of aural recall as they identify songs from the different introductions.

Of course you are going to have to impose ground rules and expectations in your classes, but rewarding good behaviour with an approving smile and thumbs up will get you much further than a permanent frown.

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