I don't know if anyone remembers my post called "I have a plan..." (I wrote it on Sept 16 when I realized I was really struggling with one of my classes. That class period was extremely difficult, with several language problems including many students who did not know how to be quiet, 2 deaf students, 1 Spanish only student and 1 mute. It was interesting! On top of that, there were kids who loved to throw things and had problems sitting down. Anyway, that post shares one of my favorite quotes and how I was going to try it out.)
I am pleased to report it worked. By telling the kids they were my favorite, they really rose to the expectation I set. Some days they pushed me and I got annoyed/ frustrated. They were no longer my favorite on those days but rather had the potential to be my favorite again.
Now allow me to share my success story. (Keep in mind this is the class that I changed the seating chart several times trying to help the students find a "friendlier location," meaning one where they would not be disruptive.)
One day, I see one of my Deaf students not writing down any notes. This is not an unusual sight but I decided to investigate and try to figure out why he refuses to take any notes in class--even if it was just copying a word or two from a PowerPoint. This day the students were taking notes from each other. I passed out some strips of information to the kids, they read it and then would teach their peers about it. I thought this was much better than hearing from me ALL the time. I have the student with number one come up and begin to explain what he learned. This is when I notice my Deaf student not writing or paying attention to his interpreter or anything. I hand my microphone to my student presenting and go over to talk with the Deaf student. (I was so grateful that I knew sign language. It helped being able to actually talk to him instead of through someone else.)
At that point, I realized that my Deaf student was completely frustrated. He doesn't know a lot of the signs and I began to see that is why he wouldn't pay attention to his interpreter--he doesn't understand the language. Well, I spent a lot longer than I realized signing what his peers were presenting and explaining what the words meant. I am still signing with my Deaf student and I begin to feel everyone staring at me. I look up from signing and upon seeing that every eye is watching me sign, I assume that the class stopped the activity after number one. I ask for number two and the kids told me they already did it--they went through the ENTIRE worksheet without my guidance or help. The students relied on their peers. After they finished, they were waiting SILENTLY for me to get them started on the next activity. This challenging class really did rise not only to my high expectation but far beyond. They were ALL in their seats, with their mouths shut, not throwing anything, just waiting. (I almost still can't believe it!)
Another day, we were taking notes (I promise we really didn't take notes that much!) and it was right before Fall Break. The class before them was slightly crazy because of the anticipation of no school the next day. Although this "difficult" class period was just as excited and eager about the break, I was able to get them quiet. The classroom was so quiet I probably could have heard some of the kids breathing at the back of the class, if I listened hard. I reminded them of the expectation of being quiet while I was talking and then they calmed down and completely respected me.
If anyone doubts, "Treat a man (or class) as he appear to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man (or difficult class) as if he were what he could potentially be, and you make him what he should be," then I hope these two examples and helped.... I know it works! :) This class honestly did a complete 180 change, simply because I believed in them!