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For Your Consideration 4.1

Survival Skills for Student Discipline

Though successful strategies for control of student discipline problems (and for maintaining order) will differ from one situation or student to the next, the following are some suggestions for influencing students toward appropriate behaviors.

Communicate institutional rules for behavior, such as “objects should not be touched,” simply and clearly at the beginning of student visits.

Minimize the attention. There are times when ignoring a student who is vying for attention is all that is needed.

Give “The Eye.” Silently looking directly at the offender with a disapproving expression can communicate “stop it.”

Walk toward and stand close by a misbehaving student while you continue your teaching.

If the students are wearing name tags, or if you can learn the offending student’s name, interject it into your lesson. Here’s what this might sound like: “This house – Jeffrey – was built in 1746.”

Each time you pose a question, ask the offending student to respond first. Then, move on to someone who wishes to participate.

If an offending student’s behavior cannot be quelled, ask the teacher or chaperone to remove the student from the tour.

As you consider these possible routes toward inhibiting inappropriate behavior, remember to account for some possible “root” causes.

Some people are very extroverted and talk their thoughts out loud. Be a good eavesdropper. If the conversation is connected to the topic being discussed, perhaps the side conversation isn’t as inappropriate or rude as it seems.

Occasionally we say or do things that are just plain funny. Don’t be so concerned with control that you forget to have a sense of humor. When something silly happens, laugh!

You cannot make people learn, but being interesting and enthusiastic helps. Are you simply lecturing to the students? Do you provide them with no opportunities to participate beyond asking them if they have any questions? Have you examined your teaching methods and style of presentation lately?

Schools Could Learn From Us! The Education section of the May 10, 1993, issue of Newsweek magazine lauded an “innovative, interdisciplinary approach” to teaching being experimented with in several public and private schools in the U.S. They called the approach “cooperative learning:” museum volunteer and staff educators might call it “a typical tour.” The article refers to “… students studying in groups and teachers acting as guides rather than as policemen or lecturers. The theory,” Newsweek continues, “is that kids learn more if they are actively involved. The old teacher-centered approach . . . turns kids into passive sponges of knowledge, competing with one another for grades and praise …” Imagine that!

Gifting Issues

The editors humbly suggest that gifting a subscription of The Docent Educator to docents who have served for a certain length of time, or who have given an extraordinary number of tours, makes a terrific and appropriate reward. Gift subscriptions are also fun to give to your docent friends. Just tell us about the gift, and we will inform the recipient!

Sharing Science with Students

Sharing Science with Children: A Survived Guide for Scientists and Engineers, is a terrific brochure produced by the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham. Among its useful teaching tips and words of advice, are these:

Involve the students in doing. Use an attention grabber if you can. Keep in mind that your goal is to arouse curiosity, excitement, eagerness to know more. When possible, let students handle models, equipment, samples, plants, prisms, stethoscopes, rocks, or fossils.

Stimulate thinking by asking questions. Questions that ask students to make a prediction, to give an explanation, to state an opinion, or to draw a conclusion are especially valuable. Be sure to allow time for each student to THINK before anyone gives answers.

Use language the students will understand. Be conscious of vocabulary. Try not to use a difficult word when a simple one will do. Define words students may not know.

Make what you are talking about real to students. Show the students that the area of science or technology you work with is part of their everyday lives. How does it relate to what they are learning in school?

“For Your Consideration,” The Docent Educator 4.1 (Autumn 1994): 12.

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