Monday, December 6, 2010


When a class works on a project, particularly a messy project, it gives teachers many opportunities for guidance. Contrary to what one might think, most of this guidance isn't in the form of completely new instructions and information, but in reminding students of what they have known all along. I find myself saying:

"Clean up your own mess."
"If you got it out, put it away."
"Rinse the brushes carefully, or they will be ruined."
"Don't wear your best shirt if you know you are going to be painting."
and, the big one,
"How you behave during a project is directly proportional to how many of them you will do this year"

Which is all good advice for adults too. Most of us know how we should behave. Deep down, we know what's right and what's fair and what's decent and what's not. We know what we ought to do.
We just need someone or some circumstance to make us do it.

Today a student objected when I asked who painted the rocks gold outside our classroom door:
"I did, but you already got me in trouble for that."
"Ah, I didn't get you in trouble."
"Yes you did. You did last Friday."
"I didn't get you in trouble."
"Yes you did, remember?"
"You got yourself in trouble. I just scolded you for it."

Sadly, that is often true for adults also.
"The policeman just doesn't understand that the speed limit should be higher for this section of the road."
"The electric company shouldn't be so concerned if I'm on time with my payments."
"I can't lose weight because the fast food chain only serves fat fries."
Most of our behavior problems aren't due to a lack of guidance but to a lack of personal responsibility.

Our project is "The Exodus Museum", and Moses was one of history's most harassed guidance counselors.

So it's all very fitting that I occasionally "get students in trouble!"


oldegg said...

Some of your guidance will sink in. You may not see the benefits of your advice immediately but just remember that way in the future your words of wisdom will be remembered with affection and thanks! Let's hope they forget you snippy, mean, grouchy part!

gs batty said...

what a great post and the truth of it screams to those that understand. We do get in trouble, not because of the gudance but because we do not pay attention to what we are told...happens to me wife doesn't understand that football is more important

Dee Martin said...

it is wonderful to see the pics of the students working on projects and all very good advice - for kiddos and adults. So true!

aftergrace said...

Ah, the old blame game. It does seem to be a common cry these days. Nobody wants to accept responsibilty. Thank you for reminding your little darlings that they need to step up to the truth.

Rallentanda said...

I like the kid who painted the rocks gold.I would have given him three gold stars. You may have well stunted the growth of a future Picasso:)

Lilibeth said...

Weren't his rocks; wasn't his paint. Poor little Picasso.

Jingle said...

love your take,
practical and useful.
Happy Sunday!

Jingle from Sunday Scribbling.
Blessings fly your way.
Happy Holidays.

Linda May said...

I agree, sometimes I think we are trying to live in a faultless society, but the mistakes are our own making.