Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Model it for me, because I don't get it!

When we say “modeling,” I can tell you what we’re NOT talking about.  It’s not admiring the teacher’s fashion choices, like sensible shoes.  It’s has nothing to do with student projects slapped up on walls all around the room. 

Part M in our A-Z blog challenge has to do with how the teacher shows the students what needs to be done.  Modeling is demonstrating how the teacher expects the assignment to be completed, or the manner in which the students should do something.

For example, good teachers should set up their classroom procedures during the year, such as where papers are turned in, how students should ask to go to the restroom, where makeup work for absent students will be, and so on.  The reason to demonstrate classroom procedures is so everything runs smoothly, class time isn’t wasted and students feel more secure with familiar procedures.  In order for students to learn the procedure, the teacher has to model it.  She has to show them how to walk in the door, where to pick up the assignment, where to turn in the assignment, etc.  After that, an experienced teacher will have the students practice it as well.

 A teacher may model how to write a topic sentence, or the correct way to swing a golf club.  The teacher should be the expert who’s showing how it’s done.  The teacher does it, the class then does it with her, following which the student should do it on his own.

When students misbehave, or fall behind in class, or generally don’t know how to do something, the teacher is usually asked, “Did you model it (whatever it is) for them?”  That way, the teacher can then easily be blamed for the students’ failures.  One can’t expect a child to do something if he or she hasn’t been taught to do it.

 I don’t allow profanity to be used in my class at all.  My feeling is that students should learn to act professionally and appropriately, since school is their work environment.  (I don’t care where you work and what you do and if dropping f-bombs is okay there – this is MY classroom, got it?)  Furthermore, students tend to have filthy language that I don’t need to hear. 

I sent a student to the office for repeated use of profanity.  He’d been warned, as the whole class had, constantly, that I have no tolerance for it and won’t put up with it.  When he went to the office, he claimed he didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to curse.  The administrator, Mr. Holden, called me to tell me it wasn’t the student’s fault because he didn’t know.

“Yes he does,” I said.  “It’s one of my classroom rules.  It’s up on the wall.”  Plus, profanity is one of the codes to mark in the office referral system telling why you’re sending a kid there.

“But he said he didn’t know.”

“So he’s lying,” I replied. 

“Did you model it for the class?”

I blinked at him.  “Seriously?  Did I model how NOT to swear?  I already don't swear!"

“Well, see, he…“ Mr. Holden trailed off.  It was obvious that Mr. Holden sent the student back to me because he didn’t have time to deal with him and wanted to minimize whatever the student did.  I waited for him to say that profanity wasn’t a big deal, but I had a code to point to that says it is.  Mr. Holden coughed, then said, “Did you contact his parents?”

“No, not yet,” I said wearily. 

“You need to do that,” he said curtly, before walking off.

I should have asked him to model it for me.