They Came, They Stayed, They Went Away

Making it through a school day is not always easy for kids! We tell them what to read, how to compute, where to sit and when they can use the bathroom. Unfortunately, we often have a small window during which we can “reel kids in”.

They came…

This sometimes is the hardest part of education; getting kids interested in what we are teaching them and how we are teaching them. We do everything imaginable to get them engaged. We dance, we sing, we dress up, we do whatever it takes to get their attention. Or at least we should. Oftentimes this can be easier when kids first enter school and still have their innate curiosity. Sometimes this can happen at the beginning of the year when the students first sit down in our class. A child can usually determine within the first few minutes of class whether or not they are going to like it or not. But, getting them interested is the first and most crucial step because if they are not with us then we are not with them. And that is a problem.

They stayed…
Once kids are “on board” with what we are doing in the classroom, life seems wonderful. We feel like we realize why we got into this profession in the first place. Teaching is fun. Life is good. And we know this is what we were meant to do. The students are happy, their parents are happy and the administrators are happy. We feel like we have the Midas Touch. We keep kids after school to tutor, we eat lunch with them, we get wonderful emails from their parents because their kids love school and we love their kids.

 dead poet 2

They went away…
Here comes the hard part. What do we do when our students lose interest in us or lose interest in what we are teaching them? Because let’s be honest, what we have to teach them may not always be interesting to them or to us. And let’s be honest again, we are not always as engaging and as fun as we think we are. These students now become behavior problems. Their grades begin to drop. And we begin to question ourselves. We go to our colleagues. We go to Twitter. We blame the kid.



Here is what we must do: Don’t Ever Let Them Go Away! Period! We must do what we have to do to convince them stay. Because once they’re gone, it is very very difficult to get them back.



Here is how we keep them;

1. We can’t ever let them think that we don’t like them. As Todd Whitaker says, “You don’t have to like them, but you must always act as if you do.” Everyone has students that are challenging, but if a student ever thinks that we don’t like them, it is over. End of story.

2. Remember our students have lives outside of your classroom. We must talk to them about what goes on outside of our building. When times get tough, and the work gets hard, at least we will have something to talk about besides school. Because school is what we do, but it is not who we are.

3. Once we even think for a second that we are losing a child, we must call their parent. Enlist their support right away. If we wait until there is a problem, it will be too late. The parent will feel like we are partnering with them and that is crucial.

4. Find one on one time to talk to the child. Children won’t always open up to us in front of their peers, but they might when they feel that they have our full attention. And they will appreciate that we took the time and effort to hear what was on their mind.

5. Give them a break. If they forget their homework. If they come in late. If they lose their temper. If they are tired. Think back to last time you made a mistake and someone forgave you right away, no questions asked. It felt incredible and you told yourself that you would do anything for that person. It happened to me when I first made a 1 hour delay schedule that I thought was perfect. I was out of the building at a meeting but was checking emails hourly. At midday I got an email from a teacher asking about the schedule because I had overlapped their lunch and their planning. Uh oh! I apologized profusely, but felt quite embarrassed and mad at myself. Each one of the teachers was totally understanding and told me not to worry about it all. That meant a lot to me and it will mean a lot to your students when you model forgiveness because then they will learn to do the same.

They came…

They stayed…

They went away…

Don’t ever let them get away!!!