Sunday, March 8, 2015

Keep Calm and Teach On

     Each school day buses pull up to 98, 817 public schools in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This does not include private schools. Let's think about the staggering number if children, parents, and teachers this number represents! Wow! Next question, what do you think that a parent or a student expects to happen in their school each day?  I can only speak from a parent perspective, but I expect that my child will enter school, be greeted by teachers and friends, be taught daily lessons, eat lunch, go to specials, possibly be assigned homework and then ride the bus home. Day after day, I sent my children to school with no worries. I had faith in their principal, their teachers, other school professionals, and their friends. Did all of their school days go smoothly? Of course not! In fact, we had days that I'd like to forget! However, in any of these days did I ever worry that my child would be yelled at or scolded by an adult working in the school system? My honest answer, "no".
      The word, "scold" comes from the middle 12th century. According to, "A person who is constantly scolding often uses loud, abusive speech. It's to find fault, angrily, to chide or reprimand." This does not mean the adult is cursing at the child, it simply means the adult is using a loud tone often with demeaning words and/or gestures, such as the common pointing index finger!
     Did you know that discipline is actually suppose to be about education? According to, positive discipline is: 

Positive Discipline:

  • is guiding and teaching;
  • is done with a child;
  • requires understanding, time, and patience;
  • teaches problem solving and builds a positive self-image;
  • develops long-term self-control and cooperation.
 According to James L. Hymes, Jr. an U.S. child development specialist, "Building a conscience is what discipline is all about. The goal is for a youngster to end up believing in decency, and acting whether anyone is watching or not--in helpful and kind and generous, thoughtful ways."
       Students perceive the yelling or scolding in various ways:
1)  Often the adult "yeller"becomes the victim when the student tries to regain control by becoming defiant which only increases all parties anger and chaos commences.  
2)  Some kids accept the fact that they didn't do what they were suppose to do and accept the scolding as a justified consequence.
3)  Some children just think that the adult is doing this because s/he doesn't like her/him.
4)  Some kids think, "This stinks but adults can yell, if they want to."

      The University of Pittsburgh found in a study that yelling and scolding:

1) Reinforced each other. In other words, the more the adult yells the more negative the behavior in the child becomes.
2) Yelling can cause depression in the children if it is used often.
3) All kids regardless of their home lives are equally in danger of the long term effects of being yelled at.
      Children who are scolded can psychologically have feelings of guilt, shame, humiliation, anxiety, stress, and indignance. If this is combined with a lack of positive feedback, the child may have difficulty forming positive friend or social relationships as they grow-up.   
     On-lookers or classmates may feel a negative impact as well. Have you ever been in a situation where someone is yelling and every muscle in your body cringes because you feel so small and helpless? This is how classmates may feel. This is not conducive to learning for anybody.
      Yelling or scolding can help temporarily but does not change the behavior. Why? The reason why is that "discipline " is to educate and yelling does not teach appropriate behavior. Plus even if the educator tried to teach acceptable behavior after scolding, the student has probably tuned him/her out!  Plus, think of yourself too, yelling is ugly! Do you really want the students to view you this way!
     So, to preserve the reputation and serenity of the entire class including yourself, remember, yelling should never be an option. Instead, create class rules and stick to them. Create a positive classroom behavior plan or a behavior modification plan. See mine at: Also, get to know each child in your classroom. Build positive relationships with each child. do all of these relationships come easy? Uh, no way! So many factors come into play such as the child's home life, if they are hungry or not, did the child get enough sleep, does the student feel inferior because s/he just can't grasp the school material, there can be hundreds of reasons why it will be hard to get to know every child in your classroom. My advice: Do it anyway! Will other adults and students frown because you have taken the "bad" kid under your wing? Yes! Ignore this, do what you have to do! Build an influential relationship with this child that makes him/her want to be respectful in class and participate in the learning activities. Oh, and the best part is, those that felt you were wrong for not yelling, may actually come back to you and say, "now I see why you did what you did!" 
   In a sense, you will be "shadow coaching" a new term I learned from my friend in New Zealand, Ritu Sehji.  Ritu Explains Shadow Coaching as an application of reflective and observational coaching that provides people opportunities to explore beyond the superficial into the core and making decisions that help people move forward. It goes beyond just supporting to problem solving. Read her blog @