Monday, June 18, 2018

Teaching Expectations

Last week I had the opportunity to hear Aaron Hogan, author of, "Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth," speak on two topics; blogging and his book. After hearing his presentation about his book, an Amazon order was placed.

One leadership role that I think every experienced teacher can have is to be a mentor to less experienced teachers. I was fortunate enough to have strong mentors when I was new and most of them weren't in my department. This gave me a unique perspective on the inner workings of the school. Through conversations and simply being around these teachers, I quickly began to understand issues that different departments face. In sort of a give back attitude, I've always introduced myself to new teachers in the building as someone who is here to support students, but also teachers.

The title of the book grabbed my attention because I feel like I've had this conversation with teachers a hundred times; no one is perfect. I was excited when the book arrived and chapter one provided some insight on classroom behavior. It provided some perspective I've never considered and will ultimately change some of my own practices.

The chapter begins with the blunt statement that there's a myth that, "the best teachers never or rarely have behavior problems." As a Special Ed teacher, I spend large parts of my day with students who struggle with self-regulation, difficulty with forming relationships and have defense mechanisms to deal with the difficulty with academic requirements that present themselves as, "behavior problems." Special Ed teachers do behavior mapping, social stories and believe that some students are doing the best they can at that moment with our students with Autism or trauma filled backgrounds. We go back and teach behavioral expectations constantly. We provide visual cues and foreshadow situations that we know are ripe for problems. Sometimes we have success and sometimes we need to try a different approach. Why don't we do this as classroom teachers????

Hogan addresses that teachers use strategies when a student doesn't understand a concept within the curriculum. We try different ways of presenting, different ways to interact with material and different ways to assess. When it comes to behavior, we tell them what we expect on the first day and then that's it. Or, we expect they know how to act and don't require instruction (have you ever heard someone say, "come on, you know better than that?"). He suggests that teachers establish clear expectations and teach them in a positive manner right from the beginning and then go back to them and reteach. He also suggests that teachers make a list of warning signs as a reminder to teach these expectations should situations arise. This was sort of a "duh" moment for me. Why don't we go back and reteach these expectations?

One of my summer goals is to investigate if I can use AR/VR applications to create social stories for some of my students with Autism. I'm not sure how practical it will be given the time it may take to create and I'm sure it will be engaging but will it be even be effective since it won't be "real life?" I still want to give it a try.  When thinking about whole class instruction, the use of apps like Metaverse or Co-Spaces might prove to be a memorable and novel way to teach behavior.

Going back to the perfect teacher myth, I think this idea of going back to reteach behavior just gave me another tool when I work with my co-teachers but also when I'm having a conversation with someone who just wants some advice. Looking forward to Chapter 2!

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