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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

Tapping into Students’ Strengths
Charlene Davis

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with an acquaintance who offers parent workshops on how to identify children’s gifts. One of her comments was that it is so easy to help a child to figure out what his unique gifts and talents are by simply observing him. This is what she coaches parents to do. As she spoke, the educational practice of “kid watching” came to my mind, which is used for assessment purposes in my work. We call them “low-inference” observations of students. My training in using this type of observation involved intensely watching one particular student during a lesson and recording his behaviors, as well as any exchange of dialogue he engaged in during the lesson. An immediate connection was made for me between what I did regarding assessment, and how powerful my acquaintance’s focus could be.

Do We Have Time to “Kid Watch”?
I encourage teachers to offer student interest inventories at the beginning of every year. Students often share very insightful information about how, and why, they respond to the different subject areas. Information about their experiences and talents are often sought as well. Unfortunately, the time to carefully sift through these inventories may not occur when we desire. However, these inventories are a good initial foray into kid watching. I believe that teachers should continue to utilize them and perhaps delegate the tabulation and gleaning of the information, or allow the students to respond on a huge class chart (names optional).

What Is the Benefit to Character Education?
Teachers can quickly identify intelligences and affinities their students have and this will inform the planning of lessons. Consequently, the work done with parents is very important, indeed it’s critical! Often times parents already know what their children are drawn to. Some do not realize that they have tapped into gifts, but once they realize that the activities that captivate their child are often a window into their child’s future, they press full steam ahead and watch more carefully. Getting parents to chat with their children more, and to support their youngster’s interests, greatly benefits the teacher. And think about it: what parent would not want to focus on their child’s strengths?

What Can You Do?
Discuss kid watching at your first parent meeting. Give them some guiding questions to respond to, and ask them to share any key feedback with you. Some sample questions follow, but they are not meant to be limiting. They can be altered for student use, too! Remember to translate for other languages spoken!

1) The activities my child enjoys most are:

*** almost everyday
** sometimes
* not often







2) Careers/jobs I notice my child admiring/inquiring about:

Why I think it appeals to him/her.







3) I think my child’s dream job would be: ______________________________________

because ________________________________________________________________.


4) Other than the TV/computer/video, the thing(s) my child spends most of his/her time with are: ___________________________________________________________.


5) My child is good at:

a. ___________________________,

b. ___________________________,

c. ___________________________.


6) I think my child would like to learn more about:

a. __________________________,

b. _______________________________, and

c. _______________________________.

Okay, now that you’ve gathered the feedback, what do you do with information? Try:

  1. Adding books to your classroom library;
  2. Planning activities and centers ;
  3. Planning trips;
  4. Inviting speakers;
  5. Getting kids researching;
  6. Generating topics for writing;
  7. Talking about the findings.

Know that you’re moving onward and forward into embracing the whole child as you engage in kid watching. By following this path, you may just foster higher levels of motivation, and cooperation in your classroom! Enjoy the journey!

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


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