While waiting in line for a tasty gyros sandwich, I watched a mother and a little girl in front of me. The girl was about three years old, and she was desperate to climb to the top of the counter. I watched as the girl reached while grunting and groaning to get to her destination. Her mom told her that she should not sit on the counter; the girl continued to struggle. Mom repeated that the girl should not be on the counter – more grunts and groans. Dumbfounded, I stared at Mom as she reached down and picked her daughter up and placed her on the counter. Speechless…simply speechless…
How many times do we place the kid on the counter? We tell our students one thing while our actions enable our students to continue the undesirable behavior. The following is a list of moments that reflect my own struggle with the temptation to place the kid on the counter:
- Wanting students to listen to directions, but giving directions without waiting for their attention.
- Telling students to not interrupt the lesson, but allowing the interruption. For example, when students forget supplies, how often do we disrupt the whole class to address the missing pencil?
- Expecting students to be ready for class on time, but not following through on consequences when students are tardy.
- Requiring students to participate in group work, but allowing them to coast by rewarding them with the same grade that the rest of the group receives.
- Allowing students to bully us for an answer the moment the work becomes challenging for them.
Why do we do this? It’s easier than teaching appropriate behavior and following through on expectations. We want the annoying mosquito buzzing in our ear to immediately go away.
Are we more concerned with reaching the finish line than we are with stopping to take precautions like a review of classroom expectations? Bottom line – stop rewarding unacceptable behavior; stop giving in so that the buzzing will stop. Be mindful, and for heaven’s sake, don’t put the kid on the counter!