The No-Fear Classroom
When students make a mistake, never ask the equivalent of, "Does anyone know the answer to that problem?" You don't want to incite kids to gain attention by proving others wrong. Instead, call out "Tell John, you're still cool!” and then correct his error. Never miss an opportunity to teach kids that it's okay to make mistakes. Errors have no effect upon PIC (Permanent Inner Coolness).
When a student is successful, in place of applause, call out, "Woo's up!" Students raise their hands in front of them, readying their woo. When you say, "Let's give Juan a 10 finger woo!" , classmates point their fingers at Juan and wiggle them exclaiming, "Woo!" Juan places his hands over his heart and, of course, exclaims, "Thank you!" He's just received a Love Bolt, one of the most powerful sensations in Whole Brain Teaching. When you're ready, see how many different variations you can add to your Woo!
What to do when a kid, Wild Jack, draws a blank when called on and doesn't know what to say? Teach Jack that he should extend his arms to his classmates, and say, "Help me!" Nearby students rush to Jack's aid, form a ring, and offer suggestions. When Jack is ready and announces, "Class!" his helpers return quickly to their seats. Occasionally in class, pretend to draw a blank, extend your arms to the front row and exclaim "Help me!" You'll be delighted with your kids' eager response.
You call on Tasha to talk about an article on polar bears. She begins an answer, makes a mistake, and you prompt the class with “You’re still cool!” Tasha starts over, does better, but, hallway through, draws a blank. She uses “Help me!” and receives useful advice from her classmates. The determined girl moves forward with her polar bear discourse but makes another mistake. At this point, you say, “Tell Tasha, you’ve got grit … you don’t quit!” Kids happily follow your lead, repeating your encouraging words. Prompt the class again, “We’ve got grit … we never, ever quit.” Far more important than a lesson on polar bears, kids learn how to support each other and nourish determination.