“Hey, no talking during the lesson.”
“I said to walk!”
“Stop pushing in line.”
No, these aren’t the type of reminders I’m referring to.
In fact, they’re examples of what you should never do—first week of school or not—because they’re reminders given after misbehavior has already begun.
Which, if you’re a regular reader of SCM, then you know is a mistake.
The reason is that post-misbehavior reminders replace true accountability. They’re given instead of enforcing a consequence.
They’re no more than a veiled threat that results in more misbehavior, not less.
So what’s a good reminder?
Good reminders are those given before misbehavior has a chance to occur, and they should be used generously during the first week of school.
1. Reminders eliminate misbehavior.
When you anticipate the possibility that misbehavior may come up—pushing while lining up, for example—and you give a quick reminder, then you all but eliminate the chances of it happening.
You remove the excuses, misunderstandings, and forgetfulness beforehand.
This very effectively makes misbehavior a hard choice for students rather than an impulsive act. It makes even minor misbehavior appear brazen and absurd, completely out of place within your calm, orderly classroom.
2. Reminders help groove success.
By subverting misbehavior in advance, you have far fewer interruptions. Thus, everything runs smoother and you’re able to begin grooving success and developing good habits.
This is critical in the beginning of the school year because success begets success.
It infects every little thing you do and will snowball as the weeks go by. It launches your students down the right path from day one, which is far easier to maintain than trying to scratch and claw your way there later in the year.
3. Reminders make you more consistent.
When you give pre-misbehavior reminders, you remove the awkwardness of enforcing consequences. Without any justification for them to lean on, you have the misbehaving student dead to rights.
They know they’ve transgressed the rules by choice. They know they deserve it. Thus, there isn’t anything for them to do or say or argue about other than accept the consequence.
Clarity, which reminders help provide, makes enforcing consequences easier and less stressful.
In time, as your students prove they can perform routines, transitions, and activities without a hitch, you’ll give fewer and fewer reminders.
Your trust in them and their abilities will grow, and you’ll gradually shift more and more responsibility over to them with less input from you. It’s a formula for a mature, goal-driven class that gets things done.
That increasingly sees misbehavior as silly and beneath them. Yes, even your most challenging students.
But it starts with a simple reminder on the first day of school.
“Before I say ‘go,’ remember to line up quietly and keep your hands to yourself.”
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