Framing it on the up and up

March 27, 2012 at 9:37 PM Leave a comment

8th grade, 4th quarter, the scent of the open fijords of summer, their noisy, bright lives beckon, leaving middle school far, far behind. So yeah, discipline can be an issue at this point. Thought I’d share a sweet little bit of wisdom/manipulation of the young…

“I’m tightening up the homework policy, you slackers.” replaced with “The High School Challenge!” Not beaten down, but all perky and nodding, yes, we want to practice what it will be like to have no late work and no homework passes. . And there is serious cruel to be kind intent. Our high school has many teachers who really don’t accept any late work, that’s the reality. So digging out from an F when it really counts to your college admission GPA is a horrible start to high school, something some of my students, maybe most, are frightened of. Better to give it a try in the safety of your last, uncounted quarter in 8th grade.

Framing up almost anything on what you DO want, rather than dwelling on what you don’t makes it easier for people to agree and to avoid losing face. After all, no body was saying YOU are always late, or you never clean up after yourself. But it would be great to start meetings on time, have the class room cleaned up easily so we can do more labs and, well, you get the picture. It’s one thing knowing that, and sometimes temper gets the better of me – a good telling off, so satisfying and yet, ultimately ineffective.

The air force researched the relative effectiveness of punishment and reward. The first works if you want a very narrow range of rote behaviors right now. Sometimes efficient and useful in combat. But if you want people to think flexibly and cope well with unexpected events to achieve a larger objective, even the air force says you’ve got to be nicer.

There’s a whole body of research on the effectiveness of punishment vs reward for effective teaching. And for effective puppy training too. Surprisingly similar to parenting and teaching, with compassionate demand being the moral center.

How politicians frame up issues has been extensively discussed by the great linguist George Lakoff in his book “Don’t Think of an Elephant“. Fascinating with much that educators can infer.

A landslide into the river of your plans. Damn! Plans are the path, but the ocean is the objective and water will find a way even if the slow seep into the bedrock comes up as an spring  somewhere unexpected, on the other side.

What are re-framings that have worked for you? Please share.

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Entry filed under: Class Management, Reflections. Tags: , .

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