I just got back from picking up the durable medical supplies that my mom lost in the tornado. It’s been a little over a month since two terrible storms ravaged my state of Oklahoma. My mom, along with several thousands of other families, lost her home. We’ve been trying to pick up the pieces ever since.
I am continually amazed at the abilities of The American Red Cross to deal with the massive amounts of loss that so many people have gone through in our state. We have been in the front lines awaiting assistance ourselves for my mom, and marvel at so many volunteers and workers who handle lines of sobbing, helpless, hopeless people with such grace and compassion.
Even after the dust has started to settle, and we all have started putting the pieces back together, there are always a handful of people who show up in places they have no business being – those who feel entitled.
As I stood waiting to meet the Red Cross volunteer who had been able to secure mom’s medical supplies, I watched a lady begin to argue with a FEMA worker, telling the worker that “she shouldn’t have to show her Red Cross or FEMA number everytime she came to get help for her family” (she couldn’t produce one when asked). She was, in her view, “owed” everything that was available for tornado victims.
The events that happened last month in our great state of Oklahoma were horrific, to say the least. No one would ever want these types of events to occur. Unfortunately though, there have been many people who have not necessarily been affected by the double whammy of two spring tornadoes within five days of each other, but who still feel that they should reap the benefits of the outpouring of resources into ‘their’ state. It is definitely not up to me to judge who ‘deserves’ these resources and who is just taking advantage of them, and I’m by no means doing that. However observing the sight I watched in the line made think of some behaviors I see in my classroom, just from smaller individuals.
“YOU gave me a bad grade!”
“YOU shouldn’t have that test on Thursday when we are out of school on Friday!”
“My mom didn’t have time to help me study! It’s her job to remind me!”
“We are too busy to read and do homework. Don’t you know I have ball practice, church and my sister has dance?”
As adults we are the model for our children’s behaviors, values, attitudes and priorities. We set the example for volume, tone of voice and expectations. If a parent puts ball practice above schoolwork, then has the attitude of the teacher being at fault when poor grades arise, the child will follow that pattern and will learn how to place blame instead of taking responsibility. It is as simple as that.
So how do we take the ‘entitlement’ attitude from our students and replace it with the ability to ‘own’ behaviors, attitudes and values in the classroom when these qualities have not been taught in the home?
1. Set clear and concise expectations and FOLLOW THROUGH with consequences. Expectations are nothing without the follow through.
2. Give children a ‘safe’ environment in which they can be responsible. All children want boundaries. However, they also want to show what they can do. Give kids the responsibilities of classroom jobs, and not just fun jobs either. I don’t know about you, but most responsibilities I have are not always fun. Kids need to learn the value of chores and hard work. Floors need swept? Perfect opportunity to engage a child. Trash cans need emptied? Again, allow a student to take on this task. You’ll be surprised at how many kids don’t have chores to do at home. Chores are the kids’ versions of adult life skills.
3. Provide lots of praise and encouragement. There’s a fine line between reinforcing and bribing. Bribing is an ‘if-then’ relationship. Reinforcement comes as a ‘no strings attached’ response.
4. Understand that you are dealing with children. Remember, most of the behaviors we see in our classrooms have been LEARNED from someone else. Be sure to loving CORRECT behaviors that you do not want displayed in your classroom.
5. Model appropriate behavior. All of us know that kids are like sponges. If we continue to model the behavior we want to see in class, chances are we will eventually see that behavior present itself.
What types of ‘entitlement’ behaviors do you see in your classroom?