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Optimal Times To Reinforce Changes

"Everyone who remembers his own educational experiences remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the kingpin of the educational situation. He makes or breaks programs.
-- Sidney Hook

There are better times than others to reinforce your discipline code, rules, routines, procedures depending on the changes. The best time is to catch it and change it when it happens. This can involve lining up again and again until it's done right. Or, canceling a game during a Physical Education period because too much bickering is going on and then debriefing with the class then and there what's not going right. You can always do it again in the next Physical Education period.

As mentioned above, if there are minor changes to be made, I like to fine tune my classroom management on a Monday when I'm rested and the class is still fresh before the week has started. I can talk to the students first thing in the morning and reinforce what they did well and focus on a procedure they're not doing well, such as keeping their desks clean, noise and talking during transition times, lining up. If there are any major changes or reinforcements I like to introduce them after holidays and natural breaks in the school year-between terms, between major teaching units.

After the first term and the winter Christmas break when students return for the new year, I like to start off the year fresh with New Year's resolutions and a unit on goal setting. For examples of students' New Year's resolutions, see Zillions magazine, the kids magazine from Consumer Reports:

The new year is a great time to start fresh, a lot like the first day of school in September. It's a chance to reinforce your goals for the class as well as an opportunity to look back to what you and the class have done for the first term. After all, January comes from the two headed Roman god Janus, the god of gates and beginnings. One head looked backwards to the past and the other head looked forwards to the future.

As students enter the class, I give them a sheet of paper to copy the three resolutions off the front board. This exercise shows the students that the new year is a new beginning. The following are the questions I have for the students: Something to do more of; Something to improve and Something to NOT do any more. These are posted for all students to see. I file these sheets in their student folders and just before the last term begins, I will interview each student on their resolutions.

To reinforce the new year, a new beginning, goal setting, doing your best, I spend time on a goal setting unit based on the movie on Michael Jordan called Michael Jordan To The Max. For an educator guide go to:

I too try to rejuvenate and reenergize by not only previewing the Michael Jordan video, but by also watching teacher movies over the holidays such as: The Dead Poet's Society, The Emperor's Club, 12 Angry Men (to review different 12 different learning styles and personality types and how to deal with them).

After the spring March break, when there is only one term of school left, I like to review Michael Jordan's quote on failure:

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over again in my life. And that's why I succeed."

This is also a great time to view and discuss movies such as Miracle On Ice, Apollo 13, Gandhi, Fly Away Home, The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Karate Kid, Holes, Like Mike, Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, Spiderman, I Like Mike, Tuck Everlasting, Swiss Family Robinson, The Princess Bride, Dark Crystal.

At the end of the year, I show Back to the Future to show students how events in your past can affect your future. The movie The Butterfly Effect also graphically shows a cause and effect relationship as does It's A Wonderful Life.

Excerpted from How to Make a Difference: Inspiring Students to Do their Best, by Marjan Glavac (Copyright 2004. $27.00, eBook) by permission of Marjan Glavac: