Do you ever arrive at work with a new and exciting lesson prepared only to have the class arrive with less than stellar attention spans?
Don't answer that. I know what you're going to say. We all dream of the perfect class, filled with well-behaved, little angels (wink!) but then reality hits. Slowly and surely, all the excitement of unveiling a brand new lesson floats away as you try to corral the little ones back to their seats (or at least get them looking in the right direction!)
Sometimes, it's not about the cool project, but basic classroom management. You know, dealing with the late arrivals, kids who need a drink of water, the girls who can't sit with anyone but their best friend and I'm sorry, but the girl sitting beside me just isn't my BFF. That sort of thing.
I've gotten better at dealing with it all. A few years ago, I was eating lunch in the teacher's lounge when a teacher asked the principal how to handle a problem. One of her students was doing something he shouldn't. The principal responded by saying, Remember, every moment is a teaching moment. Be positive with the child. Instead of saying, 'don't do that', say 'do this' instead.
I'll always remember that little piece of advise, even though it was not directed at me.
So when my students come into art class, I choose positive words as I instruct them.
"Sit at a spot with a blue paper," instead of "Don't sit there."
"Put your hands on your lap," instead of "Stop touching the supplies."
I think it helps.
I certainly don't know the psychology behind it, but I do believe that teaching in a positive tone makes all the difference between an engaged class and a distracted one.
As you practice positive dialogue, you'll catch yourself when you say something negative. Your brain will beep into action and you'll notice it. And if you notice it, so will the kids.
Just something to think about!