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NYC Helpline: How To: Manage Your Classroom
View Instructional Videos for Teachers about Classroom Management

Classroom Management (Secondary)

A high school science teacher demonstrates how her structured and routine-based classroom environment is the key to success.

Classroom Management (Elementary)

An elementary school teacher guides us through her daily classroom routines and shows how consistency and structure are essential.

Classroom Management through Cooperative Groups

View two elementary school teachers demonstrate how they engage their students through group work to help them learn.

How to Home
NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: How To Get Started
Gifted Hands, A Small Group Discussion
by Charlene Davis
part one of a two-part series

I had the honor, and privilege, of working with fourth and fifth grade, special education students, this year. This class was composed of all male students. As the classroom teacher’s mentor, one of the primary goals that we set together was to assist students in understanding why it was important to make better behavior choices. I had recommended that we do a study of Dr. Benjamin Carson’s life. Therefore, we were quite pleased to learn that Gregg and Deborah Lewis published the children’s version of Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.

At first, the boys feigned disinterest in the text, but that all changed after the very first reading of the opening chapter; for it commences with the tough details of Dr. Carson’s parents’ marital troubles. Examples of betrayal and deception---situations that some families do experience---were uncovered, with candor, then enveloped in raw love. These were real people with unusual responses to ugly circumstances. Sonya, Ben’s mom, would prove to be an extraordinary individual who endured the awkward challenge of raising two boys, alone---in dignified poverty. Our boys were hopelessly hooked!

Below, you’ll find the discussion with them which indicates how their thinking had shifted away from relying on inappropriate approaches, and unprofitable thinking, to resolve conflict. They had greatly matured, just as Ben did in the story! (Caveat: Angelic behavior was not the result—nor was this the goal, but signs of changed thinking was clearly evident. Slam dunk!! We were pleasantly overwhelmed by their candid response—at times, they sounded like elders. I hope this inspires you!)

Question: what were some of the lessons from this text that you think are important for other kids to know about?
Student 1:       That your parents do not have a lot of money, and that you shouldn’t keep asking them and begging them for stuff. Why…because if your parents don’t have enough money, then bills won’t get paid, and there won’t be enough for food.
Student 2:       Children should stop and think about what their parents are going through, and shouldn’t torment them.
Student 3:       Kids who ask their parents for things are spoiled when they [always] get what they want.
Student 2:       It’s not good to be spoiled because when they [kids] grow up, they’ll still be asking for stuff.
Student 1:       Yes, then the parents will run out of money, and then be mad at their kids.
Student 2:       We need more old-fashioned parents because [many] parents these days don’t discipline their kids.
Student 1:       Sonya Carson pushed her children in school and she forced them to want better schools.
Student 2:       Sonya sent her children to the library and caused them to succeed.

Q: was there anything in Dr. Carson’s childhood that reminds you of your own life?
Student 2:       I learned that I cannot get everything I want in life. My sister came in and took control of the T.V., and now, I learned that I have to wait. Listening to Ben Carson’s problems, and all, made me not react to my sister; and I exited the room. I finally figured out that I finally got out of a problem by avoiding conflict.
Student 4:       I also had a similar situation.
Student 3:       My mom buys me books…it’s also helping me get a better education.  I read. My mom is kinda’ like his because there are no games until Friday: Monday-Thursday, I read and do homework.
Student 1:       My mom also says I can’t play games during the week, watch T.V., or go outside. Also, I can’t watch T.V. for long because I have to share with my sister. My mom has to see the program first before I can watch it.
Student 4:       Sometimes, I read…most non-fiction.
Student 1: I like to read more, and that let’s me know that I’m getting smarter.
Student 5: I didn’t like to read that much, but I’ve changed because I read a little more.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me.


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