Wondrous Rule 5
Need a rule that stops back talking students in their tracks? Discover the golden signpost on the road to Teaching Heaven.
When we began to develop Whole Brain Teaching’s rules, our goal was to cover every classroom problem.
We wanted a couple of principles that were as specific as possible and one or two others that covered every variety of disruptive behavior. Thus, we have three rules that target individual classroom problems.
We use Rule 1: “Follow directions quickly”to address slow transitions.
Rule 2: “Raise your hand for permission to speak,” targets kids who are spontaneously chatty.
Rule 3: “Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat,” keeps students seated during instruction. Unfortunately, these three rules don’t cover every classroom misbehavior.
Rule 4 “Make smart choices” is marvelously general, addressing every decision a child can make. Rule 4 can be applied to any issue not covered by the first three rules.
So, why do we need Rule 5, “Keep your dear teacher happy?” Rule 5 addresses your most challenging students... the ones who will quarrel with you about Rules 1-4!
Pupils who dawdle along, can claim they are following directions quickly.
Chatty kids can claim they weren’t speaking to anyone.
Your most challenging students can even deny they are out of their seat... when they are standing in the middle of the classroom! “I’m not out of my seat. I’m just getting my pencil sharpened.”
Of course, your most resistant spirits can argue that all their choices are smart, no matter how obviously foolish.
So, what’s a beleaguered instructor to do? You need one rule that can’t be disputed. We’ve never discovered a child who could convince their instructor that their disruptive behavior made the teacher happy! Rule 5 is the argument squelcher, the backtalk stopper.
If a parent or administrator is troubled by the rule, explain, “I know Rule 5, ‘Keep your dear teacher happy’ sounds like it is about me, but that’s not the case. My only happiness is seeing my students learn.”
Following is a two-step procedure for using Rule 5 as a BackTalk Stopper.
For a minute or so, five times a day, rehearse the classroom rules. You call the rule number; your pupils rapidly reply with the rule and matching gesture. After three to four weeks, place special emphasis on Rule 5. During rehearsals and at random times during the day, call “Rule 5!” Students respond, “Keep your dear teacher happy!” while framing their smiling faces with their fingers.
As an explanation of the rule, say something like the following to your class, “It doesn’t take presents, or anything you can buy, to keep me happy. I only want one thing, one thing in the whole wide world, and that’s seeing you learn. Your growth as students fills my heart with joy.”
Once students can instantly respond with the rule and gesture, when you exclaim “Rule 5,” you’re ready for implementation.
Pick a lively student, Sarah, and say, “I’m going to pretend like I’m teaching and then I’ll say to you, ‘Sarah please pay attention.’ I want you to respond, with real attitude, ‘I am paying attention!’”
Model for Sarah, several times, how she should reply. This will be wonderfully shocking to your class... a student gets to backtalk you! And so, the little skit is played.
When Sarah talks back, you exclaim, “Great job Sarah! That was a wonderful example of breaking Rule 5! Class, give her a Ten Finger Woo!!” Your kids extend their wiggling fingers toward Sarah and exclaim, “Woo!” (More fun than applause.)
Then say, “This time when Sarah backtalks, I’ll say ‘Rule 5’. I want you to respond using our gesture and quickly say, ‘Keep your dear teacher happy!’”
Follow this routine once or twice until the class instantly implements the Rule 5 response.
For several days, and whenever necessary thereafter, practice a routine like the one just described. We’ve found that the key to stopping challenging behavior is to practice the class response, before disruption occurs.
The Only Problem
The only problem we’ve discovered with implementing Rule 5 is that students employ it too eagerly! Your dear kids will start calling out “Rule 5!” whenever they hear the slightest guff. When this occurs say, with a broad, honest grin, “I appreciate how quickly you are using Rule 5... but believe me, I will let you know when I think it’s necessary.” Oh happy day... your kids eagerly support you at the faintest whisper of ornery behavior!