Do you hate moaning? Do you hate hearing yourself doing the moaning?
Of course they come up with ears, and with a bit of acting and total surprise on my part (“How do you listen with your eyes? Not possible!) we come up with the remaining eyes, mouth, hands and body. All these body parts need to be doing the right thing so that we can listen properly in the classroom. They also make sure that other people can listen so we are not disturbing them.
I explain to my students that my key word is “Check.” That means that if I say, “Georgie – check,” Georgie knows that some part of her body is doing the wrong thing while I am giving an explanation or instruction. Georgie then becomes responsible for her own behavior, working out for herself what she is doing wrong and what needs to be corrected. I have also noticed that when I tell Georgie, for example, to “Check,” the rest of the class automatically checks themselves too. Over time, less checking is needed as students automatically learn to listen and behave appropriately.
While I am talking, it is so much simpler to use this strategy, or to point to my “Check” poster, than to stop and moan with a, “Georgie – I told you not to fiddle in your pencil case while I am blah, blah, blah.” My teaching moment is not lost and Georgie is not humiliated in any way, nor does she feel that I am picking on her.
- For children who need to move while listening, I allow them to tap on their laps or play with a bit of blu-tak. This is quiet movement and does not disturb anyone.
- I currently allow only one student in particular to doodle while I am giving instructions. I am not so convinced he is listening to the instruction better, but he definitely contributes more to discussions when he is doodling…so something is working here. I plan to experiment more with this doodling/drawing in the future.
How do I use this strategy at home?
If one of my own children are persisting with an annoying behaviour or an incorrect reaction to a situation, I will start by discussing why it is wrong and needs to change and get them to understand the relevance of changing this behaviour.
I will then get my child to choose his own appropriate cue word for me to use every time I notice that behaviour. It works really well. Instead of me moaning, I just have to say, “Space,” for example. My child knows what I mean, doesn’t have to listen to me moaning or have to hear me moan about it in public spaces. More important, I don’t have to listen to me moan either…about the same thing…again and again…one word and it is over.
Have you tried this strategy before? Would you like to? Do you have another one that works?