Two Words Every Teacher Should Know

There are two simple words every teacher should know. Well, I guess teachers better know hundreds of thousands of words in order to be able to communicate intelligently, but these two little words in particular are very powerful. These words are magical. These words will get your class to be instantly quiet, and they will immediately get the focus back on the teacher, or whomever the focus is supposed to be on. These words require no yelling, and are actually more effective the more quietly they are spoken.

I'll wait.

It's as simple as that. If you are getting ready to teach a lesson, or if you just need to tell your whole group something, you only need those two words. Your students will know that what you are about to say is important and that they need to listen up. They will also know that their talking, being out of their seat, humming, tapping, etc. must stop before the day can continue.

I have been in classrooms where teachers feel they need to yell at and threaten kids to get their students' attention. I have also been in classrooms where the teacher starts talking and half the class isn't listening or paying attention. I can count on one hand the times I've had to raise my voice. I can also say that I make a point to be sure everyone's hands are still and everyone is looking at me before I start talking to my students as a whole group. I learned that lesson the hard way after watching a video of a lesson I taught while student teaching. I was up at the front of the room, completely immersed in the math lesson I was teaching. The lesson went exactly as I had planned, and I was excited to get to view the lesson and show it to my supervisor. Uh, that is until I played it back and watched in at a student siting near the camera who stared at the camera and made faces at it the. whole. time.

I learned to wait and survey the entire class to make sure I had everyone's attention before speaking. All it takes are those two little words.

I'll wait. 

I should also mention that you have to follow through once you say the words. If you say, "I'll wait" and then start talking before everyone is ready, it obviously won't work.

Here are a few variations for different situations.

I'll wait for you to be quiet before I give directions.

I'll wait for everyone to be in their seats before we get started.

Let's wait for everyone to be ready before you begin your presentation.

I just love how simple it is to tell students you'll wait on them. It makes them responsible for their actions. Also, it is a non-humiliating way to get that one student in line who seems to have his or her own agenda. If you keep having to stop and say "I'll wait" for one student, you better believe they'll get the hint. The best part will be that you didn't have to raise your voice or get upset. Also, you never had to call that student by name, which would have either humiliated him or given him the attention he was seeking.

There are so many fantastic ways to get students focused in the classroom. I know there are some awesome Whole Brain Teaching strategies that I can't wait to use. I just thought I'd share what works for me. Leave a comment and let us know what works for you!

On another note, I was interviewed by Teacher Certification Degrees recently, and here is the article!

Teacher's Survival Kit

I decided to link up with Corrina at Mrs. Allen's Fifth Grade Files and share what I would put in my "Teacher's Survival Kit". Head on over and link up too!

1) Lighting - I know this might seem like a strange thing to need for survival, but hear me out. I can't handle being under fluorescent lights all day. I felt like my head was going to explode by the end of the day most of the time during my first year of teaching. I finally broke down and bought some of these flourescent light filters. They changed my life! They give everything in the room kind of a yellowish tint, but you get used to it. This is the best 35 dollars I ever spent. I even had one sweet student come up to me and tell me that he had been having headaches before, and that they went away as soon as I put up the light filters. They are magnetic and super easy to put up. While we're on the subject of lighting, don't you just love the lighting situation in this classroom?

2) Snacks - I don't know about you, but I have to have a little something to munch on in the afternoons. This is especially if I have the dreaded 10:30 (or earlier!) lunch time. My favs are Sour Patch Kids and Twizzlers. I can't say I always have these on hand, because if I have them I eat them all! I also like to keep little individually wrapped things like mints, lifesavers, Hershey's kisses, etc. so that I can pass them out to my students if the mood strikes me. Nothing keeps behavior on point better than knowing the teacher could randomly decide to pass out snacks at any moment! I have also been known to go dump a big pile of candy on the one-student-who-is-doing-what-he/she-is-supposed-to-do's desk. My hilarious coworker suggested doing this one day when I was complaining about all the talking going on in my room. Try it sometime! :)

 3) Raffle Tickets - I love having a raffle every Friday in my classroom. I have a simple jar, and whenever I see students doing something great, I give them a raffle ticket. On Friday we will raffle off some type of small prize. I get parents to sign up to donate raffle prizes at Open House. Using raffle tickets is a quick and easy way to reinforce good behavior. I have never been able to get into the complicated systems like classroom economies and homeworkopoly. Simple and easy works for me, because I know that I won't stick with it all year if it's too complicated.

4) Change of Clothes and Shoes - I am generally clumsy and I taught science, so I always kept a change of clothes and shoes in my car. The time I spilled water on myself from an "ecocolumn" that was full of dead fish and snails comes to mind. Ew. I also have been known to blow out a flip flop on occasion. I don't know about you, but I find it hard to be taken seriously with one shoe on.

What's in your "Teacher's Survival Kit?" Head on over to Mrs. Allen's 5th Grade Files and link up!