In his book Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids, Chris Biffle enumerates seven common teaching mistakes that make our students more challenging to teach. I thought I’d briefly share those seven mistakes and let you judge for yourself. While there were a few I was proud to say could not be said of me, there were also two mistakes that I plan to work on in the coming year.
Common Teaching Mistakes
- Losing our temper with difficult kids.
- Confronting rebellious students when they have an audience.
- Being disorganized.
- Unhappy teachers.
- Lack of preparation.
- Expecting our students to be like us.
- Grow or die.
Areas of Improvement
In a few months summer break will be over and I will start school with a new class of 4th graders. While I’ve learned much over the course of my career, excellent teachers are never satisfied with past performance. This year I want to focus on improving, just as I would challenge my students to improve. There are two areas I’ve targeted as my own personal/professional growth goals while implementing Whole Brain Teaching.
First, I will stay calm when faced with challenging students. Losing my cool is very uncool for a teacher. It sets a bad example and it’s simply not an effective strategy. The kids most likely to push my proverbial buttons probably come from loud, chaotic homes. I am an amateur compared to what many of them get at home. “If being addressed by screaming, out of control adults made our challenging kids better, then children from crazed families would be our model pupils.”
Second, it’s an unrealistic expectation to think my challenging students should be like me. Unrealistic expectations set a person up for frustration and disappointment. “The more you look for your own shining face in your class…the more detestable you’ll find students who don’t mimic your values.” Look for something to love about each of my students – it’s there. Sometimes challenging behaviors are just an attempt by students to get someone to say, “You are accepted.”
Grow or Die
I’m confident that using the Whole Brain Teaching strategies will help me achieve my goals. One final quote from Chapter 3: “You’re a teacher. Grow, learn, transform yourself, or die by ossification. If you’re afraid to try new teaching techniques, you are petrifying yourself to death.” Remember, every interaction with a student is a chance to put the Whole Brain Teaching principles in to practice and enter Teacher Heaven!